Testimonial: Pine Ridge Secondary School’s journey with Project of Heart

In the fall of 2010 teacher Robert Davey and his enthusiastic colleagues — all educators in Pickering Ontario — experienced the power of authentic learning with their students through completing Project of Heart.  Here is what Robert had to say:

“Participating in Project of Heart was edifying for all participants.  Educationally, students addressed one of the undisputedly bleakest moments in Canadian history in a focused, comprehensive, and compassionate way.  Psychologically–primarily due to the decorating of the tiles in memory and in honour of those who suffered–the connections that were made transcended the traditional words of the classroom and entered the realm of the spiritual.  These are the connections that we, as teachers, strive for and the evidence of these connections is astounding.

After the ceremony, for instance, instead of the usual greeting such as “hey sir, how was your weekend?” students now ask about the medicine wheel button I wear on my various coats; or more pointedly, students asked “why do we not learn more about First Nations in our other classes?”  When this is followed by supportive colleagues requesting resources to supplement their classes, this is proof enough that the seeds of this program are bearing the healing medicine we so desperately need in our classrooms.

In total, 600 students participated in our school.  At first when I sent out the invitations to my colleagues I was a little concerned that due to the pressures of the curriculum, some may have thought that they could not spare the time.  In fact, I had more colleagues volunteer than we had tiles!  Afterward, students in the halls who could have had the chance to participate  asked whether we were going to hold another ceremony, to which I replied, “what, the designing or the smudging?”  They heartily replied, “both!”  At this point, I knew that we had truly honoured the little ones who were forced to attend Lejac and Lower Post Indian Residential Schools (in British Columbia) in a good way.

I strongly encourage any teacher to contact the good folks at Project of Heart so we, of Turtle Island, can all contribute to lighting the the eighth sacred fire once again, in a good way.”

Leave a Reply