On May 24, 2019, approximately 80 students at Bayside Secondary School took part in the nationally recognized “Project of Heart”, an inquiry-based, hands-on project that reveals truth about the history and legacy of Canada’s Indian Residential Schoolsystem. Students painted wooden tiles to commemorate the thousands of Indigenous children who died as a result of their experiences at the schools after being torn from their homes, many as young as 5 years old. The edges of each tile are painted black to represent the mourning of thousands of children who lost their lives because of the depredations of the IRS. Each tile projects a word or a symbol to demonstrate the learner’s heart-felt response to what they have learned and to act as a gesture of reconciliation to the families and communities to whom these children belonged.
Students from 6 English classes, plus a group of grade 12 students who took the NBE3C course last year, engaged in this artistic project with meaning and purpose, many feeling compelled to explain the significance of their tiles and paint more. The “Project of Heart” has definitely contributed to enriching the school culture at Bayside Secondary School. It has also helped us further understand the devastating impacts the Canadian government’s policy of forced assimilation was.
This hands on project has allowed students to become a part of the reconciliACTION process which calls Canadians to action, through social justice endeavours, to change our present and future history collectively. With over 500 tiles painted, this beautiful mosaic has formed the new tabletop in Bayside Secondary School’s parlour, a meeting place where people come together to solve problems and reconcile differences on a regular basis. Each year, students enrolled in the Indigenous Studies program will contribute to the tiles on the table until it is complete.
On May 31, 2019, students attended a presentation by Tanya Maracle-King, Odawa, Crane Clan and member of Wikwemkoong First Nation. Tanya is an intergenerational survivor of parents who attended Indian Residential Schools. She is a skilled presenter, well- versed in many areas involving First Nations people. Students took part in a smudging ceremony to begin the morning and had an opportunity to ask Tanya questions and hear her stories before presenting her with their tiles as a gesture of reconciliation.
A steadily growing initiative can be observed taking root in public spaces across Canada since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) issued its report in 2015. It’s a collection of local campaigns that seek to address the way Canadians think about their collective history in the light of what we now understand to be a century-long attempt by Canada to carry out cultural genocide on Indigenous peoples; this period is now known as the Indian Residential School (IRS) era. Continue reading The reconciliation plaques of Beechwood Cemetery→
On February 13th, Ottawa teachers Kim Bruton and Amanda Anderson presented Project of Heart at Connaught Public School’s Evening Towards Reconciliation. The event was put on by the school and parent council to continue a dialogue regarding Indigenous culture and history. The first part of the programme included a dinner, and keynote addresses by Peter Garrow and the Caring Society’s Daxton Reid. Continue reading POH honoured to be part of Connaught Public School’s Evening for Reconciliation→
April 24, 2017 was a special day for the Education Faculty at the University of Ottawa as experienced educators joined with BEd. Teacher Candidates to “teach them how to teach” Project of Heart to their future students. It was a “Teachers Teaching Teachers” seminar.
The seminar was organized by the Faculty of Education’s Director of Teacher Education, Dr. Nicholas Ng-A-Fook. Nicholas was aware of the strength of Project of Heart from past presentations, and this past term he created the opportunity to offer it as part of a teacher training symposium.
The students and staff at Ottawa’s Westboro Academy were honoured by the visit of a very special guest this past month, and they have a grade 5 student at the school by the name of Leo to thank for the event.
Two high school history teachers from the Ottawa Carleton District School Board recently brought Project of Heart to 60 students from across the National Capital area who had gathered to learn about genocide.
As the attached bulletin excerpt describes, youth at the Ottawa’s Parkdale United Church recently had the good fortune to learn about Indian Residential Schools from an IRS Survivor, Mary-Lou Iatail, a Cree elder from Attawapiskat.
The memory of Shannen Koustachin was kept alive at a recent event at the Museum of Nature in Ottawa.
On the evening, June Girvan, Community Service Award winner for 2014, was feted by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation for her extraordinary work in children’s rights. June dedicated the award to the memory of Shannen Koustachen and her “Dream Team” of activists for carrying on Shannen’s work–equal education for First Nations children. Shannen has inspired youth across Canada to continue her work of bringing justice to First Nations children across Canada who continue to suffer systemic discrimination at the hands of the Federal government. Continue reading Shannen’s legacy lives on→