On May 26th, All Saints Catholic School in Kanata participated in Project of Heart. It capped off Aboriginal Awareness Week at their school, and provided a unique opportunity for the whole school to learn about Indian Residential Schools and their impact on Aboriginal families and communities from their Indigenous guests. Native Studies teacher Amy Talarico and Art teacher Graham Mastersmith teamed up to help guide their students in learning about this much under-taught aspect of Canadian history, in preparation for presentations by an IRS survivor and a respected Elder.
The school cafeteria provided the place for the students to listen and learn from Chris Herodier, an IRS survivor from James Bay. Chris opened the session by speaking in his native language, and then went on to explain what some of his experiences were. The students were then shown a DVD that explained how Project of Heart worked, and tiles were distributed to all the students. Readers can see the results in the slide-show. They were able to commemorate the lives of those children who died at three residential schools in Saskatchewan: Muscowequan IRS, Marieval IRS, and St. Michael’s IRS, all run by the Catholic church.
Before the close of the event, Omamiwinini (Algonquin) Elder Annie St. George from KitiganZibi smudged the tiles and spoke to the students about the sacredness of relationships, of life, and of the responsibilities we have toward all living beings, human and non-human. Elder Annie was living proof to the students at All Saints, that Indigenous ways of knowing and being were not killed by the Indian Residential Schools.