Grade 10s Lead Students to Deeper Understanding of Reconciliation
High School students work on a visual reminder of the importance of working to effect Truth and Reconciliation every day. Scroll down for more photos.
“Never stop expressing who you are. You matter,” was one of many messages composed by Middle School students for residential school survivors during an engaging and provocative All-School to honour the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The All-School was created and led by Grade 10 students with guidance from senior English Teacher Elizabeth Ward McCarthy.
With input from the students, Elizabeth created a special land acknowledgment for the day, delivered by Scarlett: “We are committed to listening with our hearts and to creating genuine acts of reconciliation in, and beyond, our classrooms,” she read. Scroll down to read the full text.
Students Nasinya and Maeve, who were “elementary teachers” for the All-School, carefully considered their audience and used video storytelling, poetry, and art to engage their students.
“For Kindergarten to Grade 3, we wanted to introduce this difficult topic in a way that will build understanding and inspire conversations with their families,” said Nasinya, “but also in a way that is appropriate to their age group.”
“Grade 4-6 students have had some exposure,” said Maeve, “so we want to continue the conversation. Making art is a great way for students to process the information.”
Kami, Danuvi Zoli, and Alex led the middle school students, challenging them to create personal messages for residential school survivors in order to build compassion and empathy.
“It was a tough exercise,” said Grade 8 student Laura. “We had to think very carefully to come up with words that felt right.” Some of the middle schoolers’ messages are below.
“You are some of the bravest people in this country. We recognize what you have gone through and hope for a better future for all of us.”
“We’re sorry … we know we can’t bring back the lives that were lost or take away the trauma that you went through, but we want the world to be a better place going forward.”
“We hope we can do better in the present and the future and we hope you can forgive us for the past.”
“We are sorry for the trauma that has happened to you. Unfortunately, we can’t say more because I don't think we’ll ever understand. But we are trying.”
“Never stop expressing who you are. You matter.”
High school students were led by Scarlett, Uma, and Emma, who invited them to share what they already knew and to think about what questions they had. Using learning from a pre-selected video with their own independent research, students answered their own questions about residential schools, survivors, and the process of reconciliation. Students then hung orange ribbons on the trees outside the school in a visual display of support.
Art and messages arising from the day are displayed on the bulletin board near the gym.
Principal Tara Silver reminded students to talk with trusted adults if they found the subject matter challenging. Her closing was hopeful and optimistic; she referenced whistle-blower Dr. Peter Bryce, a physician who worked in Canada in the 1900s. Dr. Bryce risked his career to alert the Canadian government to the conditions that young Indigenous students were enduring in the schools. “Don’t ever feel like your voice doesn’t matter,” said Tara. “Each of us can make a difference, and privilege comes with responsibility.”
Eliza was proud of the work and commitment of her Grade 10 students: “They are filled with hope that their work will help people understand and grapple with the truth of the past, so as to inspire and empower them to take action to actually effect reconciliation.”
Grade 10 students, led by Elizabeth Ward McCarthy, planned a day of learning and reflection.
Scarlett gets ready to read the land acknowledgment created for the occasion.
The story, music, and art from Gord Downie’s The Secret Path were shared with elementary students to inspire their own artwork. Here Maeve introduces the topic to Kindergarten and Grade 1-3 students.
Alex and Danuvi Zoli challenged Middle School students to write messages to survivors of residential schools.
Grade 8 student Laura said it was “tough” to write messages to residential school survivors, and chose her words with great care. Here she wears the shirt that features a design by 2 Spirit Ojibway artist Patrick Hunter. Each Linden student received a shirt on their first day of school.
High School students begin working on a visual reminder of the importance of working to effect Truth and Reconciliation daily.
Land Acknowledgement For National Day of Truth & Reconciliation All School
September 30th 2022
Led by Grade 10 English students and Senior English Teacher Elizabeth Ward McCarthy
In continuing with the action-based reconciliation that we strive towards at The Linden School, we acknowledge and thank all the generations of Indigenous Peoples who have taken care of this land, Turtle Island. The area of the Tkaronto, where our community lives and learns, we acknowledge as the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, the Wendat, the Haudenosaunee, and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. We recognize all the work that these, and other, Nations have done and continue to do to take care of the lands that take care of us.
We recognize the genocide of Indigenous peoples that is part of Canada’s history. We honour the lives of the children lost to the system of Residential Schools on Orange Shirt Day by educating ourselves more on how the legacy of survivors leads us to make reconciliation a reality. For over one hundred and fifty years, the Canadian government initiative took First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children from across this country out of loving arms. We recognize the devastating, lasting impact this has had on families and entire communities, and we will continue to seek out the stories of those whose lives were lost or forever altered at Residential Schools. We are committed to listening with our hearts and to creating genuine acts of reconciliation in, and beyond, our classrooms.