Glendale School from the Hillside Hutterite Colony in Justice, Manitoba has just completed Project of Heart for the first time
The Glendale students’ passion for learning the truth of Canada’s history was ignited by teacher and Principal Tyson Buskell Buskell, who had recently heard Dr. Niigan Sinclair speak to the teachers in the Rolling River School division. Sinclair spoke to the woeful deficit of Indigenous content in Manitoba schools. He challenged teachers to make the changes needed to the curriculum so that young people could learn the truth of their history, how history impacts present day realities of Indigenous peoples, and what their responsibilities as Canadian citizens are. Buskell was inspired to do whatever it took to ensure that his students could be empowered to make the changes that reconciliation requires. And this led him and his students to Project of Heart.
When asked about his and his students’ journey with Project of Heart, Buskell said that when they began to talk about Residential Schools, “I was shocked to learn how many students had never heard about Canada’s Indian Residential School system.” So they started by reading I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer.
Buskell also explained that the more the children began to learn through their research, “they began to feel a lot of different emotions, ranging from anger to sadness to disbelief.” Jaden, a grade 7 student said, “I couldn’t believe the number of children that died as a result of the schools!” Derek, a grade 9 student pronounced, “Everyone should be treated equitably and respectfully. There are no differences. People are people.” Kari, a precocious grade 2 student demonstrated remarkable insight when she iterated, “I feel shocked to learn what happened and more shocked that this happened in Canada.”
Project of Heart wants to thank Tyson and his students at Glendale School for their shared passion to learn and their desire to see that Indigenous peoples living in Canada achieve justice. High school student Delancey got to the truth of the matter when, in her letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, she said, “No amount of money can fix the damage that was caused to the First Nations people. Supplying the First Nations children with a proper education and improving the living situations on the First Nations reserves would be a great way to start making a difference. I’m not saying that those gestures will fix everything, but every little effort can make a difference.”