Editor’s note: This report from Saskatchewan teacher Lynette Brossart is one of the most thoughtful write-ups we’ve ever received. Touching and descriptive, we are reproducing it in its entirety — along with Lynette’s lovingly prepared image gallery, seen above — to show the impact of Project of Heart on a single learning community, and the amazing depth of that community’s response.
One would think that -35 C (40+ with the wind chill) would be intolerable, but inside the doors of St. Luke Elementary Catholic School in Saskatoon, the school community reaped a warm, and empathetic experience of sharing and learning of truths through Project of Heart Phase II – January 2013. The day truly was phenomenal!
January 29, 2013, St. Luke had the great honour and privilege to have the founder of Project of Heart Phase II, Charlene Sutherland, as well as Elders Charlie and Jeanne Sutherland, Moshum and Kohkum as they like to be called, as guest speakers!
The truths were shared about the IRS and injustices. For the future we will try to change the way we think and act, to build trust with one another. We move forward together in a good way, with empathy and love towards all. We will honor the courage and spirit given to us by God and use it positively. Jointly, our learning and our actions will be our humble gift to our ancestors and our decedents as we continue to learn more about our history of Canada.
Project of Heart was the wonderful tool that brought St.Luke School to remember and commemorate children who were in the following Indian Residential Schools (IRS):
Beauval IRS: Beauval, Sask. Denomination: Roman Catholic
St. Michael’s IRS: Duck Lake, Sask. Denomination: Roman Catholic
Thunderchild IRS: Delmas, Sask. Denomination: Roman Catholic
Gordon IRS: Punnichy, Sask. Denomination: Anglican
St.Philip’s IRS: Kamsack, Sask. Denomination: Roman Catholic
Students and staff at St. Luke are proud with the work they’ve accomplished. Completed are 373 tiles, from Kindergarten to Grade Eight, as well as 50 Survivor Cards and amazing activist and social justice actions to date and more to come moving forward!
Moshum Charlie and Kohkum Jeanne Sutherland, shared personal stories of their time at St. Michael’s IRS, Sask. As emotional as it was to hear the heart-breaking stories, profound learning emerged from this experience. The importance of the sharing of truths that transpired, can never be underestimated. Staff and students of St. Luke were deeply touched in ways that will now transpire into positive changes for all Canadians in the future.
Compiled on the blog, include photos and survivor card comments, to convey the sentiments of our students and staff. Through Project of Heart, the word is being spread! In unison we all can help make Canada a better county, and all people can live in harmony!
The Project of Heart day was incredibly powerful and meaningful. Tiles were smudged that morning, with over 400 children and teachers present. Later that day survivor cards were worked on, while Charlene enlightened us with greater knowledge and truths of our Canadian history.
Our staff and students not only embraced the project, but were committed to learning, dialoguing with our guests, and grew towards cultural reconciliation and healing with our survivors. Moshum Charlie and Kohkum shared stories of truth, which tugged at our hearts. The amazing messages of words of our children were meaningfully written into survivor cards. We move forward now with a generation working towards a brighter future for all.
One example of how remarkable this project was for St. Luke School, is when a child in grade 2 randomly chose to make a craft in her spare time. She made a sun with words she felt after being in Project of Heart. She made 2 of these suns, to give as gifts for her speakers, Elders Charlie and Jeanne and the other for Charlene! She had been touched, just as all the children of St. Luke have been.
The sun’s rays read:
-Be who you be.
-God made you.
-You are people.
-You’re God’s children.
-You’re not different.
-Love who you are.
(Picture included at the top of the Blog.)
She also made an extra sun for her bedroom prayer corner. Amazing!
A student from a grade 6/7 class also wrote an accurate but touching poem after her Project of Heart experience. The words in her poem reflect the sentiments she and many students feel. To sum it up: Even if we are unaware, our modelling, our actions and our words, are touching and making an impact on children in so many ways. Project of Heart gave us the tools to open up the book of history and share the truths. Now the children of this generation can move forward to make sure that it will never happen again and assist survivors in healing and reconciliation. May our Creator bless and keep them all!
Social Justice Actions for Project of Heart
School-wide social justice actions: To increase awareness and understanding of the First Nations’ culture.
1) St. Luke School brought in artist Daniel O’Shea to teach First Nations painting to grades 5-8. The art pieces were included in an art show for the school community.
2) Clothing(socks and mitts) drive for inner city school.
3) 15 Food hampers were created by classes for families in inner city school.
4) ”Pool of Love” –collecting pasta for the Friendship Inn (store for inner city use)
Kindergarten: “Heart” Poetry and illustrations
Gr.1s: will commit to the “Our Dreams Matter Too” walk for culturally based equity. The children will write a letter/s to our M.P. walk to a nearby mailbox.
“On June 11, 2012 thousands of people across Canada stood with First Nations children for the same opportunity to grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy, and proud of their cultures. Our Dreams Matter Too is an annual walk and letter writing event calling for culturally based equity for First Nations children. June 11 saw more than 50 Our Dreams Matter Too walks coast-to-coast!
Gr.2s: Easter Basket fundraiser and draw for our First Nations Brothers and Sisters of Canada and International $82.80
Gr.2 & 3: Recognizing and Comparison sheets of IRS schools and our schools of today.
Gr.5: Free verse poems about Residential Schools and the collection was made into a book.
Gr.6: Representations of what was learned about Gordon I.R.S., such as poetry, paragraphs, stories.
Gr.7: Research, history time and class made time line of Gordon I.R.S.
Representation and participated at “We Day”,
Leadership group-host a Mini “We Day” at St. Luke in May for Gr.5-8, focussing on poverty, anti-bullying, use of water, child labour.
Gr.8: Representation and participated at “We Day”, Donations of gently used Christmas decorations for the inner city assistance at Salvation Army.
St. Luke Leadership group-host a Mini “We Day” at St. Luke in May for Gr.5-8, focussing on poverty, anti-bullying, use of water, child labour.
Learning about “100 Years of Loss”, using the guide and working through the unit in entirety.
A variety of ongoing social justice projects will be held in spring of 2013 and ongoing. For example: collecting pennies in plastic bags for a cause for First Nations.
Staff: Serve lunch at the “Bridge”, and inner city soup kitchen.