At Minegoziibe Anishinabe School in Camperville, Manitoba, 21 students recently completed “Project of Heart.” The students were actively involved in the project. They learned important Canadian history lessons. We watched several videos including “Where the Spirit Lives” that documents an Aboriginal girl’s experience in residential school. Survivor, Bruce Aneechin, oversaw the entire project. He shared stories, information and his own experiences with the students. Bruce works at our school as an Educational Assistant.
Students learned about the local residential school that ran in Pine Creek, Manitoba from 1891-1969. Students attended from all areas of Manitoba including places as far away as Peguis, Roseau River, Island Lake, Cross Lake, etc. They also shared stories of their own families attending the school(s).
Students shared their experiences:
“The experience I had with the Project of Heart is unexplainable because I learned so much about what our elders went through and had a sneak peek of what actually happened in the residential schools in so little time. Once again, I would like to thank them and the people who started “Project of Heart.”
“I didn’t think residential school was that bad until I did this Project of Heart. I am glad I learned about this, I will never understand what and how they felt. I had family who went to those schools and I did not think they suffered that much. I am just glad I learned about this. It was a good experience.”
“I learned that they had a hard life, going to school and leaving their family behind, not being close to them because they didn’t live with them for part of their life. Now they have to go through life, still thinking about their past…how hard it was but they’ll get through life, they just gotta be strong.”
“My final thought about the Project of Heart is the pain, the suffering all these kids went through. Not being able to be happy, or seeing their families, having to always speak the English language, forgetting their traditions, forgetting their own way of life. If that were to ever happen again, our world, our life would be changed all over again. No one could forget what happened nor forgive the people who did anything. This subject is really hard to try and figure out. Now, the survivors are speaking up and telling the world what happened.”
“I think the Project of Heart is a topic that is hard for some people to talk about, it was really tough on some. Now, people are sharing their experience in the residential school. So it should never happen again. The next generation is learning the way of the people.”
“I’ve learned a lot of great stuff about the Indian Residential School since I first joined this group. We talked about so much stuff, got a lot of good information and our elder, Bruce, some of his past information, experiences and stories with us. During the time I spent in this Project of Heart group, I learned so much in one day. This group has really helped me understand and feel the sadness and heartache of some of the stuff our elders went through during the time they had to spend in the Indian Residential Schools.”
“In Project of Heart, it really had an effect on me, to know what people a long time ago had to go through. That every day struggle, the hopeless feeling felt and everything else. I am happy now that I accepted to be in this group, I found out a lot and it sometimes makes me sad to know that the White people tried to “kill” the Indian in the child.”
It has been an emotional, unique learning experience for all involved. We thank the people at “Project of Heart” who initiated this project. It is an important project for every Canadian student to participate in. Meegwetch!
Shirley Nepinak, Teacher
Bruce Aneechin, Survivor