Cross-posted from the Project of Heart National Site.
Recently French Immersion students from Lisgar Collegiate in Ottawa teamed with Project of Heart for the first time thanks to Genevieve Durand, a teacher-candidate from the University of Ottawa.
Genevieve invited Inuk Indian Residential School survivor Ovilu Goo Doyle to talk to her students about her experiences. Another IRS Survivor, Helen Kakekaputum was also in attendance with her sister, Alice. Algonquin Elder Annie St. George conducted a smudging ceremony. As the social justice action, students learned about the First Nations Child and Family Caring society’s case before the Human Rights Tribunal and sent letters to the Prime Minister to ask that Canada lives up to our responsibility to care for First Nations children to the same extent that all other Canadian children are cared for, in health, education, and child welfare.
Here’s what Genevieve had to say, en Francais:
J’ai décidé de sensibiliser mes élèves à la réalité des communautés autochtones du Canada. Trop souvent oubliés dans l’histoire de notre pays et sans aucun doute laisser dans l’ombre depuis des centaines et des centaines d’années, les autochtones ont vécu de terribles drames suite à la colonisation de leurs territoires par les Européens. Traités de sauvages et perçus comme des enfants aux yeux du gouvernement, ils ont été contraint d’envoyer leurs enfants dans les pensionnats afin de les rendre “civilisés”. Ce que les enfants ont vécu dans ces endroits remplis de haine et inimaginable. Aujourd’hui, la vérité doit être dévoilée et en tant qu’enseignante c’est mon devoir de sensibiliser mes élèves à cette triste réalité. Ensemble, nous pouvons faire la différence! Ensemble, nous pouvons aider à la guérison des blessures laissées par les douleurs du passé.
Le projet à Lisgar a été une réussite incroyable. Mes élèves ont grandit dans cette aventure. C’est maintenant eux qui feront LA différence!
I decided to familiarize my students with the realities of First Nation communities. Too often forgotten by the history of our country and no doubt hidden for hundreds and hundreds of years. The First Nations have lived terrible events since colonization of their territories by Europeans. Treated as savages and perceived as children in the eyes of government, they were obligated to send their children to boarding schools in order to be “civilized”. What the children lived in these places full of hate was unimaginable. Today the truth needs to be revealed and as a teacher it is my duty to raise awareness of my students of this sad reality. Together we ca make the difference. Together we can heal the wounds left by the pains of the past. Project of Heart at Lisgar was an incredible success. My students have grown during this adventure. It’s now them who will make THE difference!
Project of Heart says “Meegwetch” to the French Immersion students at Lisgar Collegiate, and their teacher-candidate from Ottawa University, Genevieve Durand.
The Native Studies class at Lester B. Pearson Catholic High School in Ottawa again participated in the Project of Heart, decorating tiles to commemorate the Residential School victims and survivors. With the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Comission Report, this year’s class has been particularly focused on the legacy of the Residential School system, and along with the tiles wrote letters to the Federal Government encouraging action on a number of Aboriginal Issues.
The teacher, Michael Bernards, has done Project of Heart now for 6 consecutive years. Congratulations Lester B. Pearson!
Miss 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.
The “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.