Indigenous Peoples Blanket Exercise & Cultural Activities


Littoral School Board - Netagamiou CLC / Harrington CLC, QC

In early 2016, CLC Community Development Agents (CDA) at Netagamiou CLC in Chevery
and Harrington CLC mobilized their schools and communities to reach out to the
neighbouring Innu community of Unamen Shipu to get to know more about their local
history, culture, and traditions.
A planning team was assembled from the three communities; early on they determined that
this was not going to be a one-off project but rather aim for a long-term relationship between
the non-Aboriginal and Innu communities, where traditionally there has not been a great
deal of contact.

The first phase involved teacher orientation sessions on how to use
the Kairos Blanket Exercise Edu-Kit that was developed in collaboration with LEARN’s
Provincial Resource Team. Next, a representative from Kairos and elder from Unamen
Shipu co-facilitated the Blanket Exercise in the three communities in spring of 2016. For
maximum impact, the planning team wanted a wider reach than staff and students, so
organized these as community-wide events in Chevery and Harrington Harbour. A session
was also held in Unamen Shipu for health and education personnel so that a strong support
network would be available for those who are residential school survivors or their
descendants.

“An incredibly powerful experience that moved me to tears. I truly believe that everyone
should participate in this eye opening, thought provoking exercise!” Christine Vatcher,
community member
“A very powerful exercise that impacted all participants. The activity shone a light on a topic
that has been left in the dark for too long.” Philip Joycey, School Principal
“L'exercice des couvertures a créé des images bouleversantes qui m'ont touchée
profondément. C'est intense!” Monique Bourassa, community member

In fall 2016, the next step was to bring the Blanket Exercise activity to the schools for all
students from grade 2 to secondary 5.

“My students told me that the Blanket exercise was the difference between knowing and
understanding. It inspired them to continue their research about residential schools. That
led them to want to know more about First Nation education in general...they got a lot out of
this project and it really opened their eyes to a reality we are not familiar with.” Anne
Monger, Teacher

During this same visit, the elder and spiritual leader from Unamen Shipu led a cultural
activity for the two non-Aboriginal communities to explain the significance of dream
catchers, with more than 80 youth and community members participating.
These activities generated a huge amount of empathy, respect, curiosity, and a concrete
desire to further nurture the relationship between the three communities. Teachers have
also expressed interest in school- based exchanges with Olamen School at Unamen Shipu,
a francophone school which is part of the federal native school system. Littoral School

Board is the only school board in Quebec which offers both English
and French education services.
Plans are currently underway for follow-up student exchanges through in-class interactions
or extracurricular activities in 2017. In addition, the CDAs have started preliminary
discussions to have Innu representatives come from Unamen Shipu to explain and lead a
sweat lodge ceremony in summer 2017.

 

The outcomes for both students and community have been considerable . Students have
demonstrated ongoing interest and engagement through a variety of follow-up activities,
including:
- Writing a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada
- Creating a “talking feather” modelled after the eagle feather that was passed around the
closing circle at the end of the Blanket Exercise.
- Watching the ‘Secret Path’ film created by Gord Downie (Tragically Hip).
- Conducting research on the impact of loss of land in relation to space and autonomy for
indigenous hunting and nomadic practices.
- Engaged in replicating native artwork such as Wampum bracelets and seed pictures.

Teachers are equally engaged and, with support from the CDAs, have incorporated a
variety of new resources and opportunities into their curriculum.

- An elementary teacher modified the EduKit and presented it to her Grade 1-3 class in a
format that she knew they would understand.
- Another elementary teacher is doing a project in social studies/ERC class with students
from grades 1-6 project on Algonquian culture and traditional food. They are also reading
books by C. J Taylor and Paul Goble about legends of the origin of the indigenous people.
- A secondary teacher modified her class time to support the interest of her students in an
independent exploration of the history, culture and contemporary issues relating to native
peoples of Quebec and Canada.
- Both elementary and secondary students participated in a webinar by the National Gallery
of Canada called Indigenous Art Today.

The most important outcome of all the activities to date has been an increased awareness
and empathy for the history that our Innu and Aboriginal neighbours have experienced and
a desire to have keep learning more. Though logistics remain a challenge (the three
communities are geographically isolated from one another, with no roads to connect them)
everyone remains committed to bridging the barriers of distance and language to learn from
each other and continue building a strong, vibrant relationship.

Excerpt from the students’ letter to Prime Minister of Canada:

“We strongly believe First Nations should not have to fight for services other children get to
enjoy in this country. We understand that the remoteness of some native communities adds
to the complexity of providing good services, but we know firsthand it is no excuse. We are
a small school with a student population of 26. We are a remote community of less than 300
residents, located on an island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with no connecting road. Despite
this, our school is well equipped, well cared for and provides us with a positive learning
environment. We want ALL the children in this country to have as much as we do”. Callie
Evans, Secondary III student, Harrington Harbour School on behalf of all secondary students
attending this school.

Autism and Arts in the Laurentians (AAL)

The Community Learning Center (CLC) based out of Laurentian Regional High School (LRHS) in Lachute, Quebec has launched an initiative for Anglophone teenagers and young adults living on the Autism Spectrum in the Laurentians.

The co-founder of the group, a parent of an adolescent with special needs living in the Laurentians for the last 15 years,  noted a lack of services beyond the school day for Anglophones presenting with special needs. When her youngest child was ready to attend the local English high school, she reached out to the CLC Agent at LRHS and pitched her idea for this group. With the collaboration of Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board (SWLSB), 4Korners Family Resource Center and Integrated Health and Social Services Centres (CISSS), the idea came to life and was aptly named “Autism and Arts in the Laurentians” (AAL).

The focal point of the AAL program is art.  Within the broad definition of art, falls traditional artwork; however, the group is also working on exciting multimedia projects such as claymation and stop motion. The participants have a chance to explore storyline writing, sculpting as well as using technology to film, edit, record voice-overs and create sound effects.  SWLSB is generously providing the facilities and technology currently used by AAL.
 

The AAL group is comprised of students with an ASD diagnosis as well as student volunteers that lend a helping hand and who have become participants themselves. While art is the primary reason the group meets, a significant secondary benefit is that students with Autism have a chance to socialize in a safe, welcoming and non-judgmental environment and create friendships within the group.  These friendships then transfer over to the school day and are a source of support for students on the spectrum.  For participants who are not in school (i.e. who have aged out of the education system or who are homeschooled), the program serves as a vehicle for continued community involvement.  

These meetings are an opportunity for all participants to share experiences, challenges and discuss relevant issues affecting their lives. The initiative also provides the opportunity for those who recently received an ASD diagnosis to be mentored by members and their families who have been part of the system longer. Through this student-led initiative, the collaborating partners hope to create support networks that will reduce the social isolation felt by many in this demographic.

A strong emphasis is also placed on building social skills, awareness and self-esteem.  Recognizing verbal and non-verbal social cues and developing effective ways to communicate are difficult undertakings for those on the spectrum. The CISSS has provided AAL with an autism-specific social skills program and topics to be covered are selected by the group as a whole.  While obstacles of having Autism are discussed, members are also challenged to explore the positive aspects of the condition.  Because Autism is often seen as something challenging, another goal of the AAL program is to instil a positive self-image in each participant. The program offers a safe, non-threatening and enjoyable environment where everyone has a chance to be an active participant in the discussions and projects. 
The group has future plans for activities with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ education department, which offers workshops for students on the spectrum. 

Club Zone de Lachine moves to Lakeside Academy

In August 2017, through its Community Learning Centre, Lakeside Academy officially welcomed a new partner. After one year of planning, Club Zone de Lachine (formerly known as the Boys and Girls Club of Lachine) permanently moved their operations into the high school. Occupying two classrooms and making use of the school’s gymnasium, dance room and weight room, Club Zone operates Monday through Friday from 3:30 – 8:00 p.m and is open to youth from ages nine to 17 from Lakeside Academy and its surrounding communities. 
The partnership has been a positive one. The club’s Executive Director works closely with the CLC to develop activities that will be of interest to its 
participants. Every evening, students are offered a warm dinner and are encouraged to help with the preparation and cleanup of the meal. Each day is dedicated to a myriad of activities from Open Gym evening where upwards of 60 participants take part in organized sports to Beat the Chess Master, Teen Talk sessions, graffiti workshops, Dungeons and Dragons, Abada Capoeira sessions, homework help and a number of other activities. There is something to pique the interest of all the youth who attend the club.
 
Lakeside Academy’s CLC and Club Zone share a mandate to provide a safe, supportive space for youth to experience new opportunities, overcome barriers and build positive relationships. Previously, the club was located in a park chalet that was quite a distance away from Lakeside Academy. With most of its participants being from the high school, commuting was often an issue. By having Club Zone in the building, Lakeside students need not travel far to find a space to spend time after school. Youth from the community also find a safe and structured space to have dinner and participate in activities until the club closes. 
Participants have been excited to try new things, new foods, make new friends and gain new skills. This partnership will only continue to grow as more youth begin to use the club and discover all the benefits that come with Club Zone de Lachine. 
 
 

Building the Foundations of Skills for Life!

“Great things come from hard work and
perseverance. No Excuses!”
- Kobe Bryant

Photo caption: Carpenter Darrell Burke
and Tyson Scott a student from
Grosse-Ile adding the finishing touches
to a picnic table.

A carpentry program is a great way to
offer a hands-on educational experience
to students, allowing them to engage in
their learning and develop real-life skills
while giving back to their community.
The Carpentry Program has been offered
at Grosse-Ile School since October 2018.

The inaugural class was composed of grade 8 students, a class with one girl and ten boys, were thrilled to have an opportunity to learn new skills that they can apply in concrete ways in their lives! In the first year of the carpentry program, students built a greenhouse and multiple garden boxes for the schoolyard that are still in use today.


In its second year, these students will build on what they learned and deepen their knowledge of the craft. The first project comes from a need in the community.
This year the students made four picnic tables that will be distributed throughout our community. The second project will be delivered to the school itself. Four “Buddy Benches” will be painted by the students and put out on our playground to encourage students to sit and form friendships.

At the beginning of the program last year, students needed instructions and to be guided but this year they take initiative and show their leadership skills. To see the finished product in the school or out in the community is very rewarding for the students - they take pride in their work! One student, in particular, was so proud of himself for using a saw which is a tool he had never used previously to this course. You could see him light up and a huge smile comes across his face.

“The carpentry course was an eye-opening course for us youth to have the opportunity to take. It taught us very valuable lessons, more than just carpentry. It taught us safety, time management and to take pride in our work. It opened me up to new experiences such as correcting mistakes and using new tools. Overall it is one of the best courses I have taken and showed there is more to education than just books”. -- Tyson Scott, A Grade 9 honors student at Grosse-Ile School.


This carpentry program was made possible by our partner, C.A.M.I. (The Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders) who helps provide funding towards the purchase of material. Beyond helping create opportunities for students to expand their academic and personal skills, C.A.M.I. contributed to the local economy of Grosse-Ile by creating a job for a local community member to teach the class.

The Grosse-Ile CLC is a persevering community with a strong sense of family and traditional
belonging. It is a community with a collaborative network of partners that support the needs of the school and the community, and work together to enhance the local quality of life.

Community Development Agent Bio
My name is Amber Mckay, and I am ecstatic to be a member of the Grosse-Ile school team, as well as the CLC network. Since moving back to the Magdalen Islands 4 years ago I have taken the initiative to be more involved and support our small community. I am a highly energetic and passionate person when it comes to working with our youth and the community. I love developing new bonds and seeing the youth and community prosper.

amber.mckay@essb.qc.ca

Reading Buddies


Eastern Shores School Board - Gaspé Elementary School, Gaspé QC

 

After attending a CLC workshop, staff at Gaspé Elementary School (GES) learned that if
children do not learn to read by grade 3 that they will likely fall behind academically, socially
and economically in the future. This prompted teachers to develop reinforcement strategies
to help their students reach the grade 3 reading goal.
One of the challenges teachers faced however was finding enough time each week to work
individually with their students and so they approached the CLC Community Development
Agent (CDA) to see how he could help with this challenge. The answer came from outreach
to the community through the intergenerational reading program. The school is fortunate to
have good partners in the York River Seniors Club and the Anglican Church. The CDA
approached the teachers with a plan, coordinated the schedule and now manages the
weekly commitment of the seniors. Most of the reading volunteers are former professionals,

teachers, CEGEP professors, or speech therapists that have a tie to the
school community and want to stay connected to a learning environment in some capacity.
The classroom teachers coordinate the students who will receive the assistance each week.

“Students who were reluctant to raise their hand to read aloud, seem more willing to do so
now.”
Teacher, Spring 2016

The program, initiated by the CDA and teachers, has become so engaging and appealing to
students that they all want to be selected to read when the seniors come in to school. The
anecdotal evidence is clear that all parties appreciate the extra reading time that is given to
struggling readers. What now needs to
be tracked is the improvements that staff might see over time for these children with the
ultimate goal of each child learning to read by the end of grade 3.
This is the second full year that the reading buddy program has been in place and results
will be
tracked starting in June 2017. It is important to remember however that this program is only
one piece of an overall literacy program. Teachers are hoping to see improvements in
student reading levels and gains in comprehension.
With regards to community engagement, there are between 4-8 seniors coming in to the
school every Friday, donating time, and in many cases expertise, while helping struggling
readers.

In June 2016, data revealed that:
- 5 out of 14 of grade 2 GES students were reading below level based on DRA
- out of 13 grade 1 students were reading below level.

“I understand the importance of what we are doing (reading 1 on 1) but I’m amazed at how
much fun it is for the students as well as for us!”

Volunteer Reading Buddy
We have overcome several challenges concerning logistics (when, what time etc...). New challenge:
students from grade 3 who are able to read at their level, feel left out when they do not get the same
opportunity to read. New challenge: volunteers (in general) love to read with students but would prefer to
read with students who are not reading at their level. Possible solutions: more volunteers, staggered
times to include more students.

Reading Buddies


Eastern Shores School Board - Gaspé Elementary School, Gaspé QC

 

After attending a CLC workshop, staff at Gaspé Elementary School (GES) learned that if
children do not learn to read by grade 3 that they will likely fall behind academically, socially
and economically in the future. This prompted teachers to develop reinforcement strategies
to help their students reach the grade 3 reading goal.
One of the challenges teachers faced however was finding enough time each week to work
individually with their students and so they approached the CLC Community Development
Agent (CDA) to see how he could help with this challenge. The answer came from outreach
to the community through the intergenerational reading program. The school is fortunate to
have good partners in the York River Seniors Club and the Anglican Church. The CDA
approached the teachers with a plan, coordinated the schedule and now manages the
weekly commitment of the seniors. Most of the reading volunteers are former professionals,

teachers, CEGEP professors, or speech therapists that have a tie to the
school community and want to stay connected to a learning environment in some capacity.
The classroom teachers coordinate the students who will receive the assistance each week.

“Students who were reluctant to raise their hand to read aloud, seem more willing to do so
now.”
Teacher, Spring 2016

The program, initiated by the CDA and teachers, has become so engaging and appealing to
students that they all want to be selected to read when the seniors come in to school. The
anecdotal evidence is clear that all parties appreciate the extra reading time that is given to
struggling readers. What now needs to
be tracked is the improvements that staff might see over time for these children with the
ultimate goal of each child learning to read by the end of grade 3.
This is the second full year that the reading buddy program has been in place and results
will be
tracked starting in June 2017. It is important to remember however that this program is only
one piece of an overall literacy program. Teachers are hoping to see improvements in
student reading levels and gains in comprehension.
With regards to community engagement, there are between 4-8 seniors coming in to the
school every Friday, donating time, and in many cases expertise, while helping struggling
readers.

In June 2016, data revealed that:
- 5 out of 14 of grade 2 GES students were reading below level based on DRA
- out of 13 grade 1 students were reading below level.

“I understand the importance of what we are doing (reading 1 on 1) but I’m amazed at how
much fun it is for the students as well as for us!”

Volunteer Reading Buddy
We have overcome several challenges concerning logistics (when, what time etc...). New challenge:
students from grade 3 who are able to read at their level, feel left out when they do not get the same
opportunity to read. New challenge: volunteers (in general) love to read with students but would prefer to
read with students who are not reading at their level. Possible solutions: more volunteers, staggered
times to include more students.

Indigenous Peoples Blanket Exercise & Cultural Activities


Littoral School Board - Netagamiou CLC / Harrington CLC, QC

In early 2016, CLC Community Development Agents (CDA) at Netagamiou CLC in Chevery
and Harrington CLC mobilized their schools and communities to reach out to the
neighbouring Innu community of Unamen Shipu to get to know more about their local
history, culture, and traditions.
A planning team was assembled from the three communities; early on they determined that
this was not going to be a one-off project but rather aim for a long-term relationship between
the non-Aboriginal and Innu communities, where traditionally there has not been a great
deal of contact.

The first phase involved teacher orientation sessions on how to use
the Kairos Blanket Exercise Edu-Kit that was developed in collaboration with LEARN’s
Provincial Resource Team. Next, a representative from Kairos and elder from Unamen
Shipu co-facilitated the Blanket Exercise in the three communities in spring of 2016. For
maximum impact, the planning team wanted a wider reach than staff and students, so
organized these as community-wide events in Chevery and Harrington Harbour. A session
was also held in Unamen Shipu for health and education personnel so that a strong support
network would be available for those who are residential school survivors or their
descendants.

“An incredibly powerful experience that moved me to tears. I truly believe that everyone
should participate in this eye opening, thought provoking exercise!” Christine Vatcher,
community member
“A very powerful exercise that impacted all participants. The activity shone a light on a topic
that has been left in the dark for too long.” Philip Joycey, School Principal
“L'exercice des couvertures a créé des images bouleversantes qui m'ont touchée
profondément. C'est intense!” Monique Bourassa, community member

In fall 2016, the next step was to bring the Blanket Exercise activity to the schools for all
students from grade 2 to secondary 5.

“My students told me that the Blanket exercise was the difference between knowing and
understanding. It inspired them to continue their research about residential schools. That
led them to want to know more about First Nation education in general...they got a lot out of
this project and it really opened their eyes to a reality we are not familiar with.” Anne
Monger, Teacher

During this same visit, the elder and spiritual leader from Unamen Shipu led a cultural
activity for the two non-Aboriginal communities to explain the significance of dream
catchers, with more than 80 youth and community members participating.
These activities generated a huge amount of empathy, respect, curiosity, and a concrete
desire to further nurture the relationship between the three communities. Teachers have
also expressed interest in school- based exchanges with Olamen School at Unamen Shipu,
a francophone school which is part of the federal native school system. Littoral School

Board is the only school board in Quebec which offers both English
and French education services.
Plans are currently underway for follow-up student exchanges through in-class interactions
or extracurricular activities in 2017. In addition, the CDAs have started preliminary
discussions to have Innu representatives come from Unamen Shipu to explain and lead a
sweat lodge ceremony in summer 2017.

 

The outcomes for both students and community have been considerable . Students have
demonstrated ongoing interest and engagement through a variety of follow-up activities,
including:
- Writing a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada
- Creating a “talking feather” modelled after the eagle feather that was passed around the
closing circle at the end of the Blanket Exercise.
- Watching the ‘Secret Path’ film created by Gord Downie (Tragically Hip).
- Conducting research on the impact of loss of land in relation to space and autonomy for
indigenous hunting and nomadic practices.
- Engaged in replicating native artwork such as Wampum bracelets and seed pictures.

Teachers are equally engaged and, with support from the CDAs, have incorporated a
variety of new resources and opportunities into their curriculum.

- An elementary teacher modified the EduKit and presented it to her Grade 1-3 class in a
format that she knew they would understand.
- Another elementary teacher is doing a project in social studies/ERC class with students
from grades 1-6 project on Algonquian culture and traditional food. They are also reading
books by C. J Taylor and Paul Goble about legends of the origin of the indigenous people.
- A secondary teacher modified her class time to support the interest of her students in an
independent exploration of the history, culture and contemporary issues relating to native
peoples of Quebec and Canada.
- Both elementary and secondary students participated in a webinar by the National Gallery
of Canada called Indigenous Art Today.

The most important outcome of all the activities to date has been an increased awareness
and empathy for the history that our Innu and Aboriginal neighbours have experienced and
a desire to have keep learning more. Though logistics remain a challenge (the three
communities are geographically isolated from one another, with no roads to connect them)
everyone remains committed to bridging the barriers of distance and language to learn from
each other and continue building a strong, vibrant relationship.

Excerpt from the students’ letter to Prime Minister of Canada:

“We strongly believe First Nations should not have to fight for services other children get to
enjoy in this country. We understand that the remoteness of some native communities adds
to the complexity of providing good services, but we know firsthand it is no excuse. We are
a small school with a student population of 26. We are a remote community of less than 300
residents, located on an island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with no connecting road. Despite
this, our school is well equipped, well cared for and provides us with a positive learning
environment. We want ALL the children in this country to have as much as we do”. Callie
Evans, Secondary III student, Harrington Harbour School on behalf of all secondary students
attending this school.

Building the Foundations of Skills for Life!

“Great things come from hard work and
perseverance. No Excuses!”
- Kobe Bryant

Photo caption: Carpenter Darrell Burke
and Tyson Scott a student from
Grosse-Ile adding the finishing touches
to a picnic table.

A carpentry program is a great way to
offer a hands-on educational experience
to students, allowing them to engage in
their learning and develop real-life skills
while giving back to their community.
The Carpentry Program has been offered
at Grosse-Ile School since October 2018.

The inaugural class was composed of grade 8 students, a class with one girl and ten boys, were thrilled to have an opportunity to learn new skills that they can apply in concrete ways in their lives! In the first year of the carpentry program, students built a greenhouse and multiple garden boxes for the schoolyard that are still in use today.


In its second year, these students will build on what they learned and deepen their knowledge of the craft. The first project comes from a need in the community.
This year the students made four picnic tables that will be distributed throughout our community. The second project will be delivered to the school itself. Four “Buddy Benches” will be painted by the students and put out on our playground to encourage students to sit and form friendships.

At the beginning of the program last year, students needed instructions and to be guided but this year they take initiative and show their leadership skills. To see the finished product in the school or out in the community is very rewarding for the students - they take pride in their work! One student, in particular, was so proud of himself for using a saw which is a tool he had never used previously to this course. You could see him light up and a huge smile comes across his face.

“The carpentry course was an eye-opening course for us youth to have the opportunity to take. It taught us very valuable lessons, more than just carpentry. It taught us safety, time management and to take pride in our work. It opened me up to new experiences such as correcting mistakes and using new tools. Overall it is one of the best courses I have taken and showed there is more to education than just books”. -- Tyson Scott, A Grade 9 honors student at Grosse-Ile School.


This carpentry program was made possible by our partner, C.A.M.I. (The Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders) who helps provide funding towards the purchase of material. Beyond helping create opportunities for students to expand their academic and personal skills, C.A.M.I. contributed to the local economy of Grosse-Ile by creating a job for a local community member to teach the class.

The Grosse-Ile CLC is a persevering community with a strong sense of family and traditional
belonging. It is a community with a collaborative network of partners that support the needs of the school and the community, and work together to enhance the local quality of life.

Community Development Agent Bio
My name is Amber Mckay, and I am ecstatic to be a member of the Grosse-Ile school team, as well as the CLC network. Since moving back to the Magdalen Islands 4 years ago I have taken the initiative to be more involved and support our small community. I am a highly energetic and passionate person when it comes to working with our youth and the community. I love developing new bonds and seeing the youth and community prosper.

amber.mckay@essb.qc.ca

Club Zone de Lachine moves to Lakeside Academy

In August 2017, through its Community Learning Centre, Lakeside Academy officially welcomed a new partner. After one year of planning, Club Zone de Lachine (formerly known as the Boys and Girls Club of Lachine) permanently moved their operations into the high school. Occupying two classrooms and making use of the school’s gymnasium, dance room and weight room, Club Zone operates Monday through Friday from 3:30 – 8:00 p.m and is open to youth from ages nine to 17 from Lakeside Academy and its surrounding communities. 
The partnership has been a positive one. The club’s Executive Director works closely with the CLC to develop activities that will be of interest to its 
participants. Every evening, students are offered a warm dinner and are encouraged to help with the preparation and cleanup of the meal. Each day is dedicated to a myriad of activities from Open Gym evening where upwards of 60 participants take part in organized sports to Beat the Chess Master, Teen Talk sessions, graffiti workshops, Dungeons and Dragons, Abada Capoeira sessions, homework help and a number of other activities. There is something to pique the interest of all the youth who attend the club.
 
Lakeside Academy’s CLC and Club Zone share a mandate to provide a safe, supportive space for youth to experience new opportunities, overcome barriers and build positive relationships. Previously, the club was located in a park chalet that was quite a distance away from Lakeside Academy. With most of its participants being from the high school, commuting was often an issue. By having Club Zone in the building, Lakeside students need not travel far to find a space to spend time after school. Youth from the community also find a safe and structured space to have dinner and participate in activities until the club closes. 
Participants have been excited to try new things, new foods, make new friends and gain new skills. This partnership will only continue to grow as more youth begin to use the club and discover all the benefits that come with Club Zone de Lachine. 
 
 

Autism and Arts in the Laurentians (AAL)

The Community Learning Center (CLC) based out of Laurentian Regional High School (LRHS) in Lachute, Quebec has launched an initiative for Anglophone teenagers and young adults living on the Autism Spectrum in the Laurentians.

The co-founder of the group, a parent of an adolescent with special needs living in the Laurentians for the last 15 years,  noted a lack of services beyond the school day for Anglophones presenting with special needs. When her youngest child was ready to attend the local English high school, she reached out to the CLC Agent at LRHS and pitched her idea for this group. With the collaboration of Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board (SWLSB), 4Korners Family Resource Center and Integrated Health and Social Services Centres (CISSS), the idea came to life and was aptly named “Autism and Arts in the Laurentians” (AAL).

The focal point of the AAL program is art.  Within the broad definition of art, falls traditional artwork; however, the group is also working on exciting multimedia projects such as claymation and stop motion. The participants have a chance to explore storyline writing, sculpting as well as using technology to film, edit, record voice-overs and create sound effects.  SWLSB is generously providing the facilities and technology currently used by AAL.
 

The AAL group is comprised of students with an ASD diagnosis as well as student volunteers that lend a helping hand and who have become participants themselves. While art is the primary reason the group meets, a significant secondary benefit is that students with Autism have a chance to socialize in a safe, welcoming and non-judgmental environment and create friendships within the group.  These friendships then transfer over to the school day and are a source of support for students on the spectrum.  For participants who are not in school (i.e. who have aged out of the education system or who are homeschooled), the program serves as a vehicle for continued community involvement.  

These meetings are an opportunity for all participants to share experiences, challenges and discuss relevant issues affecting their lives. The initiative also provides the opportunity for those who recently received an ASD diagnosis to be mentored by members and their families who have been part of the system longer. Through this student-led initiative, the collaborating partners hope to create support networks that will reduce the social isolation felt by many in this demographic.

A strong emphasis is also placed on building social skills, awareness and self-esteem.  Recognizing verbal and non-verbal social cues and developing effective ways to communicate are difficult undertakings for those on the spectrum. The CISSS has provided AAL with an autism-specific social skills program and topics to be covered are selected by the group as a whole.  While obstacles of having Autism are discussed, members are also challenged to explore the positive aspects of the condition.  Because Autism is often seen as something challenging, another goal of the AAL program is to instil a positive self-image in each participant. The program offers a safe, non-threatening and enjoyable environment where everyone has a chance to be an active participant in the discussions and projects. 
The group has future plans for activities with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ education department, which offers workshops for students on the spectrum. 

READING BUDDIES

After attending a CLC workshop, staff at Gaspé Elementary School (GES) learned that if children do not learn to read by grade 3 that they will likely fall behind academically, socially and economically in the future.

AUTISM & ARTS IN THE LAURENTIANS

The Community Learning Center (CLC) based out of Laurentian Regional High School (LRHS) in Lachute, Quebec has launched an initiative for Anglophone teenagers and young adults living on the Autism Spectrum in the Laurentians.

BUILDING BONDS

The Club Zone Lachine is the evolution of the youth community centre, a place for today’s children and teens to engage their bodies, minds and spirits. From 3:30 pm to 8 pm daily, adolescents are given a chance to socialize and enjoy a vast array of activities in a couple of classrooms of Lakeside Academy.

BUILDING THE FOUNDATIONS OF SKILLS FOR LIFE!

“Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No Excuses!” - Kobe Bryant

A carpentry program is a great way to offer a hands-on educational experience to students, allowing them to engage in their learning and develop real-life skills while giving back to their community.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES BLANKET EXERCISE & CULTURAL ACTIVITIES

In early 2016, CLC Community Development Agents (CDA) at Netagamiou CLC in Chevery and Harrington CLC mobilized their schools and communities to reach out to the neighbouring Innu community of Unamen Shipu to get to know more about their local history, culture, and traditions.