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Bala Street Community School

Letters to Prime Minister Harper

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Bala Street Community School

  1. 1. At Woodlands and Wellington, each secondary school took ownership in learning about one of Canada’s 130 Indian resi- A rock passes hands as students share their knowledge of dential schools. Wellington students commemorated childrenCanada’s Indian residential schools (IRS). As each participant who were taken to Kuper Island IRS while students at Woodlandsspeaks, it becomes clear that this part of Canadian history has remembered the children of Christie IRS.gone unspoken and the students are hearing about residential After hearing about historical and lasting impacts on genera-schools for the first time. This is not surprising as learning about tions of First Nation, Métis and Inuit children who attended resi-residential schools has recently entered into the B.C. school cur- dential schools, students were invited to take part in an artisticriculum. The truths of what happened during the 100 years resi- endeavor to commemorate the lives of children who perished indential schools were in operation have just begun to be recorded Canada’s residential schools.into our nation’s history. Each school was given a number of tiles equal to half the school’s This year, Woodlands and Wellington Grade 10 Social Stud- student population, a symbolic representation of half the childrenies students have learned about this history through Project who attended residential school but never returned to their familiesof Heart, a nation-wide collaborative art-based project started and communities. Using the artwork of Coast Salish, Kwakiutl andby Ottawa high school teacher, Sylvia Smith. Project of Heart Nuu-Chan-Nulth children who attended Kuper Island and Christieaims to teach students about the intergenerational impacts of residential schools as inspiration, each tile was decorated in mem-residential schools; to acknowledge our shared history and take ory of a life lost. There were 800 tiles handed out to students whoownership in reconciliation. It starts with building empathy and created each tile as a gift for the children taken and the families leftunderstanding by learning about the historical impacts of resi- behind. Each tile becoming a meaningful artifact, representing onedential schools. of the thousands of young lives lost.
  2. 2. From FIRST NATIONS Page 14 June 1 marks the International Dayof Healing and Reconciliation. Onthis day, the students share in theirexperience with a residential schoolsurvivor as the tiles are smudged. Ina ceremony of understanding andhealing, the tiles represent a gestureof reconciliation, the start of a newchapter in Canadian history where“[t]hereis no place in Canada for theattitudes that inspired the Indianresidential schools system to everagain prevail.” It is on this day, thatthe tiles will be returned to Ottawato be collected. Once all of the chil-dren who attended the 130 residen-tial schools across Canada have beencommemorated, the tiles will begathered and sent to the Truth andReconciliation Commission in hopesthat they will be displayed. What Students Said about Projectof Heart “My favourite part was about theresidential schools because I foundit the most interesting. It was a nicechange of pace to do something dif-ferent [referring to the tiles].”