Langdon School in Southern Alberta has now partnered two years in a row with Project of Heart. This year two classrooms were invited to create gestures of reconciliation, and Elder Randy Bottle — an IRS survivor — came to Langdon to share his own memories of the Residential School experience.
Teacher Susanne Moskal shares this report:
Grade 9 Students from Langdon School were very fortunate to be a part of Project of Heart, this year. Students inquired into Indian Residential Schools and learned about the purpose, experiences and tremendous effects. From this inquiry, the grade 9’s designed and created 2 Gestures of Reconciliation for Indian Residential School Survivors.
One class made a Dreamcatcher “Chandelier.” The thought behind this was to use something symbolic from the First Nations culture, but put a thoughtful twist on it to represent the students in from our classroom. The intent of their “twist”, was to have the chandelier at the centre of a room, and all the negativity that passes through it turned into light, which represents positivity. For Residential School survivors, this would help take away all the negative thoughts and turn them into positive thoughts. Each student, in addition, created a tile, that is hanging off the dream catcher, to show understanding and empathy to everyone affected by Residential Schools. Some of the titles represented animals that showed characteristics similar to a IRS Survivor showing strength, wisdom and growth. Other tiles were words or symbols showing care and thought.
The other class created an art piece that represents their empathy for IRS survivors, as a dedication to Residential School Survivors through Project of Heart. As a whole, they decided to create a mosaic piece with the final product being a medicine wheel. A medicine wheel has many different symbolic meanings varying on tribe, clan, family and many other reasonings. However, the medicine wheel we created has the colours representing reconciliation (white), healing (black), redress (red) and acknowledgement (yellow). Each student designed and drew on one of the smaller squares. The drawings on the smaller pieces relate to animals representative of IRS Survivors, quotes, dreamcatchers and symbols for IRS.
Both of these Gestures of Reconciliation were shared and presented to Elder Randy Bottle, who is a Indian Residential School Survivor. He generously spent time with the classes sharing his stories and history. Through the inquiry and Project of Heart, the grade 9 students developed empathy for all the people involved and affected by Residential Schools.
Once again our thanks go out to Susanne and the Grade 9 students at Langdon – meegwetch!
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What a heart-felt engagement with Project of Heart. I love the teachings from Elder Bottle that accompanied making the gestures of reconciliation. Thank you so much for helping us readers, understand how many ways there are to interact with community members as we remember the children who never got home.