To better understand residential schools, local teachers created a mock museum at John Paul II featuring primary sources to give students a better understanding of the stories and history of the time period.
Tracie Harty and Lindell Gateley came up with the idea after discussing how to include the book Secret Path by Gord Downey into their Grade 10 English Language Arts (ELA) Truth and Reconciliation Blended Learning Unit.
Gord Downie, better known as the lead singer of legendary Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip, wrote Secret Path as a series of poems inspired by the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old boy who tried to flee an Ontario residential school in the 60s. Wenjack died on his 400-mile journey back home.
Both teachers decided for students to best understand the story, they would need background information on residential schools and the Indian Act.
“When Lindell (Gateley) and I began talking about this project we searched the Internet for material that the students could use,” Tracie Harty told battlefordsNOW. “What we found was volumes and volumes of material that we could have spent a whole semester on so we had to come up with another idea.”
With the help of Ramona Stillar, the group decided to create a museum in the library where students could examine pictures, documents, videos and a timeline of events provided by the Hope Foundation, an organization that raises awareness about the history and legacy of the residential school system.
They also received additional literature from staff members, the school library and the Treaty 6 Resource Centre.
“It was a great opportunity to see what the students of residential schools and their parents went through,” Harty noted. “The students appreciated the chance to explore on their own however it was very heavy content for many of them.”
The ELA 10 teachers and students will be spending the month of March using the resources.
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