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Our time on this land

WSD students gathered at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights Feb. 21 and 22 for the second installment of this year’s Everybody has the Right program.

The theme for this year is “Everybody Has the Right To Belong.” The February workshops focused on Indigenous people and Newcomers to Canada.

Brock Corydon students led a presentation in the morning sessions on Indigenous history, which segued into a discussion of the Seven Teachings.

In the afternoon sessions, Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute related their experiences as newcomers to Canada.

“These students will tell their stories of being refugees…why they left and what it was like to come to Canada with the snow, the climate and the new people,” said WSD Education for Sustainable Development Consultant Chantelle Cotton. “They will tell how they developed their own sense of belonging here.”

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Both presentations inspired reflections from all of the school groups in attendance before they undertook a massive group project.

At the centre of the workshop floor was a large map of Canada with no defined borders—a representation of how the land existed prior to European contact.

Students working on their pre-colonial map.

Students created their own visual emblems on foam stamps, which they then used to imprint their own symbols on the map of Canada.

“If you look at this map, it has rocks, trees, water and mountains…but it is not colonized,” Ms. Cotton said. “In a very symbolic sense, this is a way at looking at belonging and bringing together the stories of our time on this land.”

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Students were asked to contemplate the importance of sharing and receiving, and listening with one’s heart.

“Students here today are both giving and receiving information, and that helps create a balanced life. You can’t have balance if it’s just one or the other,” Ms. Cotton said.

Robert H. Smith students Thando Saka and Amélie Haid-Essiembre said the map-making exercise brought students from many different schools together.

“We’re making new friends, we’re learning about new stuff and we’re working as a group,” Thando said.

“We need to learn to work with many different people, and it is better to learn that when you are young,” added Amélie.

The previous Everybody has the Right workshop, held at the museum in November, focused on the individual and the community. The final set of workshops, scheduled for May, will focus on healthy relationships.

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