East Northumberland Secondary honours the lives lost at Yukon Hall IRS

Native Studies teacher Pamela Vanderburg from East Northumberland Secondary School in Brighton, Ontario has come up with a unique way to present Project of Heart to her grade 10 learners.

Here’s Pam on just how she did it:

  “The Grade 10 Native Studies class buddied up with the Grade 4 elementary school students across the road.  We met periodically over the semester to tell Native Legends to one another. Because we have a Metis Elder meet with my class once of week, the class is allowed to experience the culture. We also have an Aboriginal Consultant who came to the school to talk about the Medicine Wheel as well as the Indian Residential Schools. We spent about two weeks studying them. Project of Heart was very timely as I introduced it to the students as a Culminating Activity and it became part of their final exam.

“We had 20 secondary schools students mentoring 25 Grade 4 students and the bonding and learning that took place was phenomenal! As you can see from the photos, the children were focused and on task– and took their efforts seriously. It took three sessions to complete the tiles. Afterward, the two classes came together again for the Smudging Ceremony and Dedication. The Metis Elder smudged the tiles and shared his knowledge about the tragic situation of the Residential Schools. On the final day of class, some students did a Reflection which I have included with the tiles.

“One of the most inspirational moments for me was the Social Justice piece, where the students wrote to the Prime Minister and/or Member of Parliament. The students began to truly understand the what the Indian Residential Schools were all about. It was very timely that the CBC had shown 8th Fire.  The second episode, “It’s Time”, showcases Project of Heart. I showed this episode in class and the students were amazed that their project was on national television!

Vanderburg continues her reflection with a call to improve our Ontario’s public school curriculum by including balanced, factual historical content. “As head of the Canada and World Studies Department at our school, I am amazed that the Grade 10 History Course is called Canadian History and yet it does not contain any Aboriginal history– only the European Civil Wars. As we move into the 21st Century, it is vital that our youth — and Canadians generally — understand Canadian Heritage.”

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