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The Human Library

​​​"If we tell each other our stories, we can never again be enemies." - Arthur Mauro

WSD Grades 4 to 6 students were part of an exciting start to the 2016/17 Everybody has the Right (EHTR) program – Learning about our Human Library.

The event, held Oct. 18 at the new Winnipeg Soccer Federation North Complex, was highlighted by storytelling sessions from a wide variety of guests. Storytellers included Juno nominee Don Amero, former Somalian refugee Muuxi Adams, local writer Bill Fugler, artist Kal Barteski, and many more.

"For this third year of the EHTR program, we are bringing understanding of human rights and diversity to the very core of our students through their identities," said Rob Riel, Director, Aboriginal Education and Newcomer Services, Winnipeg School Division.

Students spent the day learning about the power of stories when exploring "identity" as well as writing and sharing their stories to express identity.

"The idea is that the more you learn other people's stories, the more you learn about yourself," said Chantelle Cotton, WSD's Education for Sustainable Development Consultant. "Students will learn all the different ways they can tell stories. When they get back to their schools, they'll create stories to share with the rest of our division in April."

Odik Opap, a WSD intercultural support worker who specializes in Arabic and Dha-Anywaa languages, said he felt the sharing of stories was a powerful way to build empathy. "I was born and raised in South Sudan and came to Canada 13 years ago. Now I work with newcomer families and students who are transitioning into school in Canada," he said. "These stories can connect people, even if you are from different parts of the world." 

Grades 7 to 12 students took part in a second gathering Oct. 25 at R.B. Russell Vocational High School. Storytellers included Juno-nominated recording artist Don Amero, writers Ian Ross and Bill Fugler, artist Kal Barteski and more.

Mr. Amero said sharing ones life story, the good parts and the bad, can bring a sense of peace.

"Every time I get up and perform, I'm constantly sharing my trials and tribulations, my sorrows and my hurts. I'm actually a pretty happy guy, and I think that's because I share those pieces of my life."

No matter how vast the differences are between two people, students said the sharing of stories helped to bridge the gap.

"It's important because we can connect and relate to each other," said Children of the Earth student Angela Scott.

"You get a new perspective on different people and see how people live in their own shoes every day," added Earl Grey student Ailis Halligan.

Kent Road School student Deshyra Julian said the day was worthwhile.

"You get to hear what other people think about human rights and what they've had to go through."


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