January 21, 2013
Respect and Love from Ms. Graham's Students at TDSS
Ms. Graham and the students of her Expressing Aboriginal Cultures and Aboriginal Beliefs, Values and Aspirations in Contemporary Society courses at Timiskaming District Secondary School participated in a nation-wide project entitled, "Project of Heart." The project engages the students in an act of reconciliation to honour children who lost their lives at residential schools. The students focused on commemorating the children who lost their lives at the Federal Hostel in Cape Dorset, Nunavut. They decorated hundreds of tiles for the project, each one in memory of a life lost.
As the students learned the history of residential schools, there were many feelings of anger, frustration and sadness. This compelled them to do something. The gesture of reconciliation the students were able to offer in decorating the tiles gave them a way to send love and healing to the survivors and to the families of those who lost their lives. Ms. Graham is extremely proud of her students, not only for their dedication to producing tiles with beautiful imagery and messages of hope and love for the children of the Federal Hostel in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, but for their dedication and respect while learning about residential school survivors and what they endured.
"It was a learning experience for us all,"
said Ms. Graham. "I wanted to be sure the students were receiving an accurate and honest history of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, that was also engaging. Project of Heart had the most impact on the students of everything we studied all semester."
At the end of the year, Ms. Graham asked the students to write about what they would take with them from the course when they leave. Everyone said they had immense compassion for residential school survivors and their families and a deeper understanding of their history. We all hope the Canadian government and Canadians alike make a continued effort to reconcile and promote healing of all residential school survivors and their families.
As a second gesture of reconciliation, students took part in social justice action by signing Amnesty International petitions to stop violence against Indigenous women and girls. They also took part in Shannen's Dream, in support and of the dream Shannen Koostachin put into action years ago, taking steps to ensure First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children have the same educational opportunities as other Canadian children.
The students were excited to learn that their tiles will be housed in the permanent collection of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg. A slide show of pictures from the class and a profile of TDSS' efforts can be found at the Project of Heart website.