Teaching empathy: Sacred Heart Community School remembers the students of Prince Albert IRS.

In February of 2012, Regina teachers Audrey Rockthunder and Nicole Romanow embarked on the Project of Heart journey with their young learners. As Rockthunder explains “the reason I chose to participate, is this helped to awaken the residential school spirits through the hearts and minds of the survivors.”

Her grade 4 students had the opportunity to listen to Elder Mike Pinay’s residential school story on the first day of their project.  They shared the tile decorating with their grade 6/7 partners “and the results were amazing,” says Rockthunder.

Romanow, the Grade 6/7 teacher, tells Project of Heart that, “This involvement has truly opened the eyes of many of my students to the injustices that occurred in Residential Schools and to the effects that those experiences have on the generations of First Nations people.”  Romanow also says that the students appreciated the real-life stories that the Elder and survivor, Pinay, told about the Indian Residential Schools which “made this Project more relatable and engaging.”

Both Rockthunder and Romanow’s students are participating in the June 11th “Our Dreams Matter Too” http://www.fncaringsociety.com/our-dreams-matter-too walk, as their social justice piece.  Shannen’s Dream is alive and well at Sacred Heart Community School, as the students prepare to voice their concerns about inequities in funding for First Nations education at the Legislative Buildings.   June 11th marks the 4th anniversary of the official apology by the Government of Canada for the Indian Residential Schools.

When asked about why it is so important for young learners to be involved in doing social justice, Romanow replied, “Shannen’s Dream not only promotes equal education, but leadership, motivation, and commitment.”

Project of Heart wants to thank Audrey Rockthunder, Nicole Romanow, and all their students for their heart-felt gestures of reconciliation, and we wish them strength on June 11th, as they use both the spoken and written word to send messages of support for First Nations children to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

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