Step 3 – Create a Gesture of Reconciliation


From the beginning of Project of Heart the first act of reconciliation has been the decorating of small wooden tiles that have been installed in various commemoration exhibits across Canada. In the beginning the tiles were colored black on the edges as memorials for children who died in Indian Residential Schools. Later in the evolution of Project of Heart some participants chose to color the sides of the tiles with a color other than black to honor survivors and their families. If you would like to continue to create tile exhibits CLICK HERE to find the instructions for the tile decoration as well as information about how and where to purchase tiles for your school or organization.

Many classes and learner groups have created their own commemoration exhibits with tiles and installed them within their classroom, school, or any other establishment in the community that would be appropriate. Not only are these installations beautiful to look at, they serve to honor former students of Indian Residential Schools and inspire people to do their own learning about Canada’s Indian Residential School system. Below are some examples of what three different schools composed with their decorated tiles.


Elder Dakota Eaglewoman worked with youth in Calgary to create these beautiful feather wreaths to honor children who attended Indian Residential Schools across Canada. Dakota created a feather template and copied it on paper for the youth to decorate. They chose the National Day of Healing and Reconciliation logo as the circle for the centre of each wreath. The youth wrote the name of the province across the centre logo and then decorated a feather for the children who attended each IRS in that province. Some provinces had 2 wreaths as there were so many residential schools that all of them could not fit on one wreath. On the quill of each feather the youth wrote the name of the residential school to identify the children that attended there as the ones being honored by the particular wreath. Each feather was then given unique decoration to honor the children.


Perhaps your group prefers to express themselves musically? April Waters and her grade 4/5 students came together, with the help of singer/song writer Harmony Parent, to compose the song “Residential Wreck”. This song is an interpretation of the student’s learning, and is a reflection of the experience that survivor Victoria Elaine McIntosh shared in their classroom in Step 4 of Project of Heart. Give the song a listen and inspire your group to create their own piece! To read more about their writing experience in their blog post at:


I Promise from Shaughnessy Park on Vimeo.

More and more students are utilizing their technological skills to express their learning and to inspire others. This is also true for Charlene Kantyluk and her grade 8 students from Shaughnessy Park School in Manitoba. After conducting a full investigation in to the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools the group knew that they needed to do more than tiles. Students and staff members pulled together to create a video to share what they learned, their wishes, their apologies and their promises. Use this video as an example to guide your reconciliation film-making experience! Read this group’s blog post at:


These are examples of gestures of reconciliation that have not been inspired by Project of Heart but are outstanding ways of creating awareness, honoring survivors, memorializing those children who were lost and efforts to bring about healing and reconciliation.


Remembrance Ceremony

Students in grades 4-6 from Strathcona Tweedsmuir School gathered on May 22, 2013 to memorialize those children who died at Dunbow Industrial School. One by one they read aloud the names of children buried in this grassland graveyard. To conclude their ceremony, they all released butterflies to honour the children who lost their lives.



In a grassland graveyard, pupils pay tribute to Alberta’s long-lost native children



World View Mural

Teachers from schools in Regina had an opportunity to learn, alongside students, about the First Nations traditional world view through story-telling.

A mural was then created with detailed artistic expressions of these stories that show where everything belongs and the relationships between nature, living and non-living things. They are currently being installed in Imperial and Wascana schools.

It is the hope that these murals will encourage teachers and students to learn the traditional First Nation world view which will create a better understanding of our First Nation peoples and a teacher’s ability to teach these world views.


Murals encourage different kind of view




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