Pembroke’s Bishop Smith Catholic High School re-connects with Project of Heart

This spring students and staff from Bishop Smith Catholic High School in Pembroke, Ontario hosted Project of Heart for a second year running. An Elder and IRS survivor from the Algonquin community along with his daughter, granddaughters, and grandsons were invited to participate in the smudging ceremony. The event was video-recorded for the Elder — who could not speak — but who, along with his granddaughter, danced a healing dance around the tiles.

Project of Heart facilitator and teacher at Bishop Smith, Kathrin Winkler, reports that the ceremony was “moving…beyond moving. We had 34 guests–students from elementary schools in Pembroke who are learning drumming and the Algonquin language and their teachers for an afternoon of art workshops, following the ceremony–again over 70 high school students sat in a circle, danced, and listened intently.”

As an example of the creativity with which Winkler approached integrating Project of Heart into the curriculum, her Grade 10 art class incorporated newspaper articles about the Indian Residential Schools they received in their kits, and re-constructed them, bringing out a different message, “drawing attention through omitting, and re-designing coming to terms with the abuse”. Winkler states, “This was a powerful art activity–we used acrylic and watercolour washes, glazes, marker and the text itself. I did a similar activity then in my World Religion class on the Holocaust. By using art we create a response to horror, a dialogue with the text in a re-construction.”

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