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Treaty learning journey continues

​Sharing the meaning of "treaty" with students and all members of its North End community, David Livingstone Community School hosted a special celebration to mark another milestone in a multi-year, school-wide learning journey.

The Treaty Days celebration, held on June 1 at the school, included the unveiling of a mural project designed and created by students.

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As a part of an ongoing response to the Truth and Reconciliation's 94 Calls to Action, school Principal Tim Cox and Vice Principal Pat Mainville encouraged students and teachers to build and uphold classroom treaties in the fall of 2016.

In June 2017, after consultation with students, families, community members and staff, the school unveiled its own David Livingstone Community School Treaty and hosted its first Treaty Days for the community. This treaty is now proudly displayed at the front entrance of the school for all to see.

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"I feel like the people from the community that come to the school and school celebrations are part of the treaty, as well as parents and families and students and teachers," said Liberty Oetting, a Grade 7 student at the school.

The individual classroom treaties are a way for students and staff to commit to their learning goals.

"Our classroom treaties are about how to behave while you are learning and at school," said Grade 8 student Yumna Chaudhry.

"We all sign our name to the treaties, and that means we are committing to being good students, listening to our teachers and being respectful," Oetting said.

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The mural has been a continuation of these initiatives and aspires to deepen student understandings of treaty in a pursuit of Truth before Reconciliation.

The project, under the direction of Integrated Arts Teacher Talitha Kaethler, began with an invitation to parents, teachers and community members to participate in the design and creation of the mural to tell the story of the four groups that came together to form David Livingstone Community School, what they value, and their commitment to each other.

"In a time where the word treaty reminds many Canadians of broken promises, Grade 5-8 students at David Livingstone Community School are using art to communicate that treaty is a commitment that belongs to all of us," says Kaethler.

Over 150 students, staff, family and community members worked on constructing the mosaic over the course of the month of May. A Mosaic Student Advisory Group, made up of nine junior high students, was consulted and participated in making all decisions around the mosaic project. The June 1 community celebration was intended to recognize all those involved and their hard work and dedication to the community.

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"I feel like [the mural is] accepting everyone in the North End who comes into the school. It's good vibes," Oetting said.

This community beautification project, made possible by The Winnipeg Foundation's One-Time Community Grant of $11,000, allowed the school to partner with Winnipeg mosaic artist Ursula Neufeld. 

"A tremendous amount of learning has taken place to reconfigure the democracy of a balanced treaty. Students have learned to use their voice, and that their voice will be heard and respected," Neufeld said.

Students and families were also encouraged to share their stories, with the afternoon of the celebration being dedicated to traditional teachings and storytelling.

With files from David Livingstone

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