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Indigenous Perspectives

July 19, 2022

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Students in Grades 4-6 and in Grades 7-8 took part in a presentation on September 26th. Our presenters, Wes Nelson and Desiree, spoke to students about the history of Canada’s residential schools and the impact on generations of Aboriginal families. Students watched a five minute video depicting artistically residential schools (Google: YouTube Allan Parry Residential Schools). Wes shared his own personal stories about his grandfather, his mother, and his brother; all residential school survivors. He told us how his grandfather would cry at night but Wes never understood why. He told the students that his mother was given a number at residential school and no one ever used her name. He shared how his brother was afraid of the dark because he was once put in a dark room and the people from the school threw snakes in the room to scare him. These acts of mistreatment and cruelty had an impact on his family members. It was a sad time in history for Canada. 

Wes spoke about the Aboriginal Adoption Ceremony whereby community members pledge to care for, to protect, and to love members who have lost family members and/or who are in need of support. Together, with the teachers’ help, we re-enacted adoption pledges and wrapped Desiree up in a blanket. We hope his teaching will be shared with other families. We encourage staff and students to take care of each other because we are a family at École Sacré-Coeur. The stories were honest and the teaching was powerful. On September 28th, many ÉSC students wore orange T-shirts to honour and to acknowledge the survivors and those who have lost family members or been impacted by the residential school system. 

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its 94 Calls to Action asks that each Canadian learn more about Indigenous ways, that we deepen our understanding, and that we acknowledge our past history. Throughout the school year, teachers will be integrating Indigenous Education in the curriculum. We hope to have Wes back again to share more stories. 

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Increasing staff and student understanding of Indigenous culture and knowledge was one of our school's priorities this year (2017-18). To support this initiative, the following events, teachings, and supports took place:

  • Grades 4, 5, & 6 teachers collaborated with WSD Indigenous Support Teacher, Misty Perrun
  • Staff Book Study by AAA Committee, Indigenous Writes
  • Cultural presentations by Wes Nelson took place in September (Aboriginal societies, Bear song, Purification Ceremony) and November (Warrior, Belonging)
  • Students learned the importance and values of a sharing circle
  • Grade 3 students learned about the symbolism of animals, their characteristics, and their strengths. Students then self-identified themselves and choose (and drew) their animal. See artwork in main title.
  • secret path.jpgGrades 5 & 6 students completed a book study on The Secret Path
  • Several of our students' Heritage Fair projects researched Indigenous topics such as Les métis et Les écoles residentielles
  • Purchase of a variety of Aboriginal/Indigenous books for students and staff
  • AAA Committee created a 2-year plan for the school. Next year's focus will be with primary grade students and teachers.
  • Two staff members attended the Summer Institute Treaty Education workshop (August 2017)
  • Three staff members attended the Reconciliation and Relationships Conference with Dr. Brokenleg and Dr. Raven Sinclair held in November 2017.

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