Honouring Truth and Reconciliation in Elementary School
By: Charity Chanut, Kindergarten Educational Assistant, with contributions from Morgan Chapman, Elementary School Librarian
While Canada observes its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, STS strives to create meaningful engagements to promote the ongoing process of truth and reconciliation. However, the question arises for Elementary Educators and parents of young students alike: How do we approach this important but painful legacy in an age-appropriate way? During conversations this week, I discovered that Elementary Teachers at STS kept this important question in mind while staying true to the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation.
Our Teacher/Librarian, Morgan Chapman played an important role by making the legacy of Residential Schools a focus during Library periods. Reading books by Indigenous Authors, such as, “When We Were Alone” by David A. Robertson, and “Amik Loves School'' by Katherena Vermette sparking meaningful conversations with students. Then following through with activities that encouraged students to think about how they can honour the children and families that were affected by residential schools.
In the Forest Community, Ms. Wagstaff and Ms. Forgay led their Grade 2’s through a week-long project that included planning a design that honoured Residential School survivors. Their designs were then made into buttons that they could wear in support of Truth and Reconciliation.
The Forest and Mountain communities shared in an Indigenous Author visit through Zoom by Courtney Defriend, who is of Coast Salish and European ancestry. The Mountain Community also featured Grade 3 students out on the land at Allen Bill Pond, and learned even more about rocks and minerals when they returned to school from Dr. Rudy Reimer, an Indigenous archaeologist from SFU through the APTN show, Coyote Science.
In the Rivers and Lakes Community, Grade 5 and 6 students explored the books “When I Was Eight” and “Not My Girl” - the story of Inuvialuit Knowledge Keeper Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and her experiences at Residential School. The Grade 6 students were challenged to think about how they will help others to remember the legacy of Residential Schools. They met this challenge with “pledges” that were both thoughtful and compassionate.
As the week comes to an end, and I reflect on the activities and experiences the students have engaged in, I believe the seeds have been planted to facilitate the ongoing progress of Truth and Reconciliation. And as we spend September 30th observing the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, I am confident that STS Elementary School students have had meaningful learning opportunities that have acknowledged that “Every Child Matters”.