Ed4Rec Projects in Our Schools... and beyond

Projects of Heart, and related activities, Ed4Rec Projects in our Schools... and beyond 
If you want to see what other schools have done, get a feel for what's possible, maybe follow from their example or access some of their resources and tools, then this is the place to check first.

Below we will be highlighting new projects (up top usually) and archiving the experiences of several schools in our network, but also key projects outside of Quebec.  Let us know if your school has gotten involved too.  Follow us on Twitter via the #ed4recLEARN hashtag or other key players listed in the contacts sections way, way below!

Various project descriptions from the 2012-2013 school year are also available here:  Go to site

Return to main Ed4Rec Resource page

Project of Heart at New Richmond High School CLC

New Richmond High School CLC

Eastern Shores School Board

NRHS also had a powerful twinning experience as a result of PoH. Through special funding from CTF they were one of several schools offered funds to travel with a twin school to Montreal for the TRC event.

In this case, they partnered with a neighbouring school on-reserve in the community of … This is a strong example of practical reconciliation at the local level, as many students migrate back and forth between these two schools over their academic years. Students and teachers working together between the schools helps to build stronger continuity for these transitions, and contribute to greater peace and understanding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students.

This was a phenomenal experience for our school. The students were engaged in class and participated well in all aspects. Those that were able to travel to Montreal came back even more excited about the project and were able to give testimony to their families and peers during our Evening of Healing.

We created 3 commemorative art projects with the more than 500 tiles. One of these projects is on display in our school entrance. A second project was given to our twin-school community of Gesgapegiag and the third will be given to the Project of Heart as thanks for starting the whole project.

The ‘Evening of Healing’ was hosted on April 30th as a means for our students to share their learning, experiences and stories from the project. It was a way for us to acknowledge the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools and commemorate the lives of those affected by this history.

For us, the 100+ turnout (in a school that generally struggles with parent participation) was truly an acknowledgement of how important this history is to our students, our school and our communities. Start to finish this was a moving and important project.”

Project of Heart Gaspe Elementary School CLC

Gaspe Elementary School CLC

Eastern Shores School Board

Gaspe’s PoH was a very successful example of community-wide engagement. After students completed the normal steps, they were supported by the principal and many teachers to create art projects based on several prominent Aboriginal artists, displayed at an evening art gallery. The event was so popular that CBC was in attendance, resulting in a fabulous interview including some impressively articulate students!
 

“In class grades 3-6, using the 100 years of loss kits and the novel Fatty Legs we covered the history of residential schools to varying degrees based on the age of the children, but they all finished with an understanding of what happened.

Through the project we strengthened our relationship with an organizer in the Aboriginal community, Andrew Lavigne. Several of the staff involved were invited by Andrew to attend a sunrise ceremony on the morning of gallery night. We were very excited to have been invited and the experience was wonderful.

He helped us to make contact with Elder who came to our Art Gallery Evening and led a gathering ceremony and smudged the tiles in the presence of all those who were there.

Everyone then toured the gallery and listened to their children explain what they had learned. The students were very happy to share that moment with their families. Andrew set up a table with native artifacts and stayed to help those present learn about his culture. We had about 80 people attend.

Overall, this has been a powerful learning experience for students, staff and parents and we are already preparing for next year!”

Project of Heart Centennial Regional High School CLC

Centennial Regional High School CLC

Riverside School Board

CRHS, on Montreal’s South Shore, has over 1100 students from 68 different cultural backgrounds! With less than 10 identified Aboriginal students, two teachers of History & Citizenship classes decided to present PoH within a broader study of cultural genocides in world history. Many students who are Newcomers to Canada were surprised to learn about IRS history, and could relate Aboriginal experiences here to atrocities in their own countries of origin. 

The concept that everyone, at some point in their life, has been marginalized or isolated for a reason beyond their control, really allowed students to relate to the project and fight against bullying of all kinds.  

By the end there were over 300 students who participated, over 1200 tiles decorated, and 5 teachers on board!

To see more about this project… Click Here.

Project of Heart La Tuque High School CLC

La Tuque High School CLC

Central Quebec School Board

La Tuque leveraged PoH to build and strengthen several local partnerships and connections. Aboriginal artists and organizations came into the school, and students attended events at the local Friendship Centre.

“I was also aware that La Tuque had a residential school here in town.  I felt it important to get involved in order to teach our students about residential schools, to bridge the gap between our community and the Atikamekw, Cree and Innu that live in La Tuque and finally, to help the healing begin here in town.

After a variety of curriculum activities and the tile decorating, local artist Laurianne Petiquay was commissioned to create two identifcal final art pieces.

“When the pieces were complete, we had two ceremonies. The first one was for the students at the school.  Yolande Jacob came to bless the piece that would stay at the school.  Alfred Birothe, Laurianne Petiquay and Michelle Dupuis joined in the ceremony.  Laurianne explained how she designed and created the piece and she explained her use of colours and symbols.  Then Yolande purified the piece with an Atikamekw prayer and with the burning of sweet grass.  Then all the teachers and students were invited to close their eyes and sing a final prayer of healing, while Yolande sang and drummed.  

The heart tells the story of all the children that were affected by the residential school. The tiles represent the children on their journey away from and back to their home, represented by the tee-pee in back.  The heart is cracked, but healing, though some cracks will always stay.  The purple feather on the front represents the suffering and sorrow. The Turquoise stone in the middle represents healing and security for the Atikamekw and is encircled by sweet grass, a purifying herb.  The silver dust represents the spirits of those children who never made it home.

The second ceremony took place at the Complexe Culturel during Mon Rendez-Vous Autochtone. Michelle Dupuis, coordinator at the Centre d’Amitié Autochtone de La Tuque, told the participants about our project and how this piece was to be displayed at CAALT.  Again, Yolande blessed the piece and sang a purifying prayer.  Finally, a group of Atikamekw singers sang while we danced a round dance.

Our work does not end here.  We are strengthening our partnership with the CAALT, by having the artist work with our students on different projects.  The CAALT is joining us as we march in support of Shannen’s dream, and helping us to create a video about it.  Finally, the CAALT  have  approached us for help in introducing the residential school history and the PoH in the French schools in town.”

Blanket Exercise Story - Chevery & Harrington Harbour

In early 2016, the CLCs in Chevery (Netagamiou) and Harrington Harbour reached out to the neighbouring Innu community of Unamen Shipu to invite them to participate in the Kairos Blanket Exercise, an interactive educational activity that covers 500 years of history of Indigenous people in Canada.

A planning team was assembled from the three communities to implement the Blanket Exercise, with a broader aim of developing a long-term relationship, and specifically for the non-Aboriginal communities to learn more about their local Innu history, culture, and traditions. Approximately 125 community members participated in the events, representing more than 20% of the total population of the two communities.

As a result, in the spring, Katy (a representative from Kairos) and Baudouin (a spiritual leader from Unamen Shipu) co-facilitated the Blanket Exercise three times, as community-wide events in Chevery and Harrington Harbour, and for health and education personnel in Unamen Shipu (in recognition of the network of support 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

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 reaching out to the Olamen School at Unamen Shipu, and plans are currently underway for follow-up student exchanges through in-class interactions or extracurricular activities.

Student impacts include 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” modeled 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). Go to siteGo to site
• 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.

Teacher impacts include the incorporation of a variety of new resources and opportunities into their curriculum. 

• An elementary teacher modified the Blanket Exercise EduKit and presented it to her Grade 1-3 class in a format they would understand.
• Another elementary teacher is doing a project in social studies/ERC class with students from grades 1-6 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.

However, the most powerful outcome for the communities in Chevery and Harrington Harbour has been an overall increased awareness of the history and a desire to 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.

 

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