Students from three Langley schools presented Project of Heart to the Indian Residential School Adjudication Secretariat on December 4th in Vancouver to share about the importance of all students learning about Canada’s true history. Josette Dandurand and Cecelia Reekie were also invited to share their stories about the legacy of residential schools.
BCTF staff celebrate Orange Shirt Day
Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in the spring of 2013. It grew out of Phyllis’s account of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away Continue reading BCTF Orange Shirt Day
Several classes from Byrne Creek Secondary honoured survivors and those children lost to residential schools by creating a heart garden in their memory. Many students from across the country participated in creating heart flowers and sent them for the closing ceremony where the final report for the Truth and Reconciliation was delivered. Over 1,000 heart flowers were planted at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
Over 750 educators from across the province participated in the First Nation Education Steering Committees (FNESC) conference as they celebrated their 25th anniversary. Project of Heart BC was featured as one of the workshops and was met with much enthusiasm. A new initiative created by Sylvia Smith in support of Justice For Indigenous Women was shared as one of many possible social justice actions that teachers and students may participate in.
The Project of Heart canoe that has been adorned with over 6,000 tiles made by students across the province is now on display in the U’Mista Museum in Alert Bay. The museum is in the shadow of the St. Michael’s Residential school and is currently exhibiting a photo collection entitled “Speaking To Memory” by Beverly Brown. This is believed to be the only collection of photos taken by a child who was a student in a residential school in Canada. Museum visitors have found that the canoe offers a healing counterpoint to the harsh reality depicted in the photos.
Students and teachers from across the province participated in the Project of Heart by teaching and learning about the sad legacy of Indian residential schools. Students designed tiles to commemorate survivors of residential schools and those children who never returned home. The canoe will stay with the exhibit for the next year, after which time it will become available for exhibit in other locations.
“I really enjoyed participating in the blanket exercise and found it to be a very good way to understand our Canadian history in a more visual, active way.
“I did not have the chance to study much Aboriginal history in elementary and high school, our education was very focused on the Europeans. Most of what I know I have learned from reading articles, in films and talking to people. I have learned so much more these past two months of PDP and I feel this has been one of the greatest gifts of this program to me. But I find every time we have a workshop about Aboriginal education I have more questions.
“I hope in the future that I will have the chance to spend some time with elders in our community and listen to their stories so I can begin to more fully understand. I also hope that my future students will have this opportunity as well, as I know it would deeply enrich their education as Canadians and citizens of the world.” — Bronwen
By James Chamberlain, elementary teacher and vice-principal in Vancouver
These hearts were designed by our Grade 2 and 3 students to depict peaceful images for Aboriginal people, and juxtapose this with hurtful imagery from their residential school history and experiences. A number of picture books about the negative impacts of residential schools upon Aboriginal people were read to the students. We discussed the racist laws imposed by the Canadian government that led to forcing Aboriginal families to give up their children to Indian Agents or face jail time. Students were already familiar with laws that banned potlatches and required Aboriginal people to give up their traditional reserves.