Durham District Education Centre takes on Project of Heart

A few weeks ago Durham District School Board employees completed a Project of Heart workshop under the leadership of Education Officer for Aboriginal Studies, Bill Littlefair. The board office atrium in Whitby was set up to accommodate employees who wanted to know more about their own history with respect to the IRSs, and express their feelings through their art work after learning about the schools.

The visual set-up followed the theme of “Apology”. There were 3 TV/DVDs running for the display including the Official Apology video, the “Where are the Children” DVD, and the Legacy of Hope’s “Our Stories, Our Strength” video. Jan Longboat from Six Nations allowed scans and poster to be made and displayed from parts of her book, entitled Coming Home: Stories of Residential School Survivors, by Jan Kahehto:io Longboat.

Here’s Bill Littlefair:

“The Education Centre was linked through the project with Stringer Hall, NWT. I was able to gather a couple of photos from the Anglican Church website. Interestingly enough, a teacher with our board spent the early part of her career serving remote communities in northern Alberta. Although she did not visit Aklavik, NWT, as a result of the display, she had purchasd a book that she then loaned to me entitled Fatty Legs, by Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. It’s a junior level and fairly quick read with lots of pictures that documented her experiences. So, it’s a true story of the author’s experiences attending residential school in Aklavik–same place as Stringer Hall! Margaret (Olemaun) actually attended the RC IRS and the Anglican Church ran Stringer Hall and the community’s hospital. I read the book this weekend and it brought another level of understanding to my experience with this wonderful project.”

After the tiles were completed, Cliff Standingready, an Indian Residential School survivor and local Elder, held a ceremony to honour the children through smudging the tiles and talking to the participants about his experiences. The ceremony was built into the Naive Studies/Native Language Professional Learning Community agenda for the Barrie Region of school boards.

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