Russell High School Students Learn About Residential Schools

IMAG2414Miss Hétu’s Grade 10 Native History class at Russell High School in the Upper Canada District School Board completed Project of Heart in mid-October 2014.

This was the the group’s first time participating in Project of Heart.  Each student selected which Residential School they wanted to learn more about and focused on that school for the Project. For their social justice action initiative they decided to  sign up with Shannen’s Dream and will support their campaigns.

As a gesture of reconciliation the class chose to do a tile commemoration.  They put magnets on the back of the tiles to make them stick to the chalk board. We placed in the form of an Inukshuk – as one of the most recognizable symbols of Inuit culture.

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Children to Children Art Installation

Tammy Fiegehen_58-3AThe “Children to Children” art installation by artists Shirley Horn, Shelly Fletcher and Zenith Lillie-Eakett was created as part of the “Project of Heart Commemorating the Children for Future Generations” initiative.  The initial unveiling of the installation was held at 180 Projects in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario in December 2013.  The permanent installation of “Children to Children” at Algoma University took place in August 2014.

Elder Shirley Horn is a Shingwauk second generation residential school survivor and graduate from the BFA program at Algoma University. When offered to join the Project of Heart, she jumped at the chance to participate. She saw in this project a chance to express herself in more abstract way, outside of words, which can oftentimes be difficult given the subject matter. The art piece has evolved through six incarnations with each one in Shirley’s mind, not quite right. “It’s too traditional, too literal.” She qualifies herself as an abstract artist and wanted to move away from the traditional iconography and forms such as canoes or wigwams. “We are a progressive and forward thinking people, we respect and pay homage to our past but we are also able to function in today’s world with an eye to the future.”

Shirley’s final design took the cylindrical form of the drum and abstracted it to the point where it now exhibits the form of a round billboard. “ Billboards reflect history, past and present, they proclaim, exclaim, and tell a story, much like our drums.” The material chosen for this piece is rusted steel because the weathering and rust conveys not only beauty but resilience through the passage of time. While not a welder, Shirley has contracted a local steel fabricating business with her design, a tall round steel framework into which transparent layers of plexiglass with artwork on them that will be inserted vertically into the four quadrants.

Each panel or quadrant tells the story about the residential schools graduating from the past and into the present. .  Additionally, the tiles will be seen within the artwork on the panels and throughout the room surrounding it. While they acknowledge the devastating effects of the legacy, Shirley, Shelly, and Zenith want to convey instead, a sense of growth, a bright future, and an affirmation that the children who did not make it home from the residential schools will always be remembered and that they did not die in vain.

Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre

The Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre at Algoma University is pleased to announce that it will be acting as the Ontario host for the Project of Heart.  We look forward to working with groups across Ontario on this important and meaningful project.

The Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC) is a recent integration and consolidation of two major initiatives of Algoma University (AU) and its partners, the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association (CSAA) and the National Residential Schools Survivors Society (NRSSS): the Shingwauk Project, founded in 1979; and the Residential School Research, Archive and Visitor’s Centre, founded in 2005.

The SRSC is a cross-cultural research and educational development project of AU, CSAA, and NRSSS. The founders of these decades-long efforts were joined together by their recognition of the profound importance of the commitment to the Shingwauk Trust and the relationship with Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples that AU assumed upon its relocation in 1971, in partnership with the Keewatinung Anishnabek Institute, to the site of the former Shingwauk and Wawanosh Indian Residential Schools.

For over three decades the SRSC and its predecessors have partnered with many organizations including the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Dan Pine Healing Lodge, Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, and others to:

  • research, collect, preserve and display the history of Residential Schools across Canada;
  • develop and deliver projects of “sharing, healing and learning” in relation to the impacts of the Schools, and of individual and community restoration; and
  • accomplish “the true realization of Chief Shingwauk’s Vision.”