Students from St. Mary’s Indian Residential School in Standoff, Alberta who did not live to be reunited with their families were remembered by the Winston Churchill High School students in Lethbridge this past spring. Mentored by teacher Erika Grintals with help from art teacher Jane Huson, students did an in-depth study of the local Blackfoot and Blood peoples. Their artistic creation was presented to the Elders in the community and put on display until the school year’s end! Winston Churchill learners also augmented their gestures of reconciliation by creating newscasts and posters highlighting the IRS experience and recommending changes to the Indian Act, Canada’s apartheid legislation that has allowed discrimination against Canada’s most vulnerable, Aboriginal children and women to continue unabated.
Some student responses to Project of Heart…
“Watching and hearing about what happened to the kids in residential schools made me angry that human beings would treat one another like that.” –Graydon
“It is a great way for people to realize what happened at these schools and also a great way for kids to express themselves on the subject. This project has really enlightened me.” –Matt
“I chose the tipi on the prairies and the setting sun to signify the children having to leave their culture and happiness behind when they were taken to the residential school.” –Zoey
“I chose the bird against the mountains because it was probably a kid’s dream (in school) to grow wings and fly.” –Emily
“I drew bear paws because they are a symbol of strength and endurance and the children that went to these schools were strong and had tons of endurance. You would have to be strong to survive at these schools.” -David
The students and staff at WCHS would like to thank Narcisse Blood and Ramona Big Head for sharing their time, culture, songs, and stories with the students. And Project of Heart would like to do the same, as well as to give a huge “meegwetch” to Erika and Jane as well as the students, for without them, there would never be a “Project of Heart”! Thanks to all!