Grade 6/7 teacher at Fairhaven School, Trenton Johnston, states in an email to Project of Heart, “Thank you for all of the great resources for informing students (and myself) on this sad, on-going chapter, in Canadian history. Project of Heart became a significant portion of our studies on Treaty Education.”
Johnston’s students had much to think about after Elder and Survivor, Mr. Baldhead, spoke to the learners of his experiences. Here are some of their reflections:
“It is a sad story that only about half of the people who went to residential schools survived. Mr. Baldhead told us about what it was like when he was in a residential school. He said he was tortured. It would have been a really hard time for him.”
“My experience with this project was touching and made me feel closer to all the people who lost their lives in Indian Residential School. The tiles surprised me about how many lost their lives, and the smudging ceremony made me feel more like I was an Indian.”
“I learned more about residential schools than I thought there was to learn. It is sad how many children died in residential schools. We got our tiles smudged by an elder. It was neat to see. Thank you for having this program.”
“While we were learning about this project, I felt so sad for the people who attended residential school. Every child’s dream was ruined because of this. We should remember all the sacrifice they made.”
“I feel sorry for the people who went to the Indian Residential School. Mr. Baldhead, who went to the school, said that he suffered a lot. He said that out of his classmates, only 3 out of 170 are still alive today.”
“None of his classmates deserved what they went through.”
“It’s sad to know that Canadians were so mean to the First Nations people.”
“I learned that people that went to IRS were treated very badly and it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t good for them. I also know that they shouldn’t treat people differently and that they never should have tried to change the people.”
Johnston said that as part of the social justice actions, he and his students became informed on two current issues affecting First Nations: 1) Ensuring that clean water is a right for all; 2) Urging the government to come up with a comprehensive strategy to address the root causes of violence against Indigenous women. To complete their learning, Fairhaven students took action by signing the Amnesty International on-line petitions.
Johnston also states that, “In addition to activities suggested by Project of Heart, we wrote our own historical fiction stories about Indian Residential Schools by following the examples of Shi-shi-etko and Shin-chi’s Canoe by Nicola Campbell and Kookum’s Red Shoes by Peter Eyvindson.”
Project of Heart wants to thank the grade 6/7 students, their teacher Trent Johnston, as well as the administration at Fairhaven School. You are helping the youth by preparing them to take their civic responsibilities seriously. Tansi!