Teacher Michael Bernards from Lester B. Pearson Catholic High School in Ottawa joined a host of learners for a second year by involving his grade 11 Native Studies class in the commemoration of the children who died at the St. Eugene Indian Residential School in British Columbia and the Fort Alexander Indian Residential School in Manitoba.
As the invited guest to the event — he was asked to come and to give testimony to his experiences — Christopher Herodier Snowboy spoke from his heart about the loss, the anger, and constant “coming to grips” with the long-lasting impact of the IRS experience on him, his family, and his community.
Mr. Snowboy made two trips to the school, passing on his knowledge to the youth of Lester B. Pearson, who are learning that attempts at forced assimilation isn’t just something that happened “many years ago”. As a matter of course, they found out that children in First Nations communities across Canada today must leave their families and their communities to receive a high school education. As part of the social justice component of Project of Heart, L.B. Pearson learners followed the lead of Lady Evelyn Public School in Ottawa as they marched all the way to Parliament Hill to take part in a rally to demand that the Federal Government stop discriminating against First Nations children in allocating funds for education.
Shannen’s Dream Day of Action saw Lester B. Pearson students handing over their letters and petitions to M.P. Paul Dewar for tabling in the House, and speaking on the podium along side hundreds of other student supporters. These youth are now carrying on the legacy that was started by Shannen Koustachin, a student from Attawapiskat, ON who started the largest student-led campaign for children’s education rights in Canada.
Well done, Lester B. Pearson students!