Left to right: Annie Smith, Krista Rogers, Winter Eriksson, Shelby Caron, Celina Baird,Dustin Quinlan Gary Hill. Front Row : Eduard Frye , Evan Dinner, Cody Quinlan.
When I attended the TRC hearings in Maskwacis last August, I was faced with the true horrors of the residential school system. We see the legacy of that history in our communities every day. I came back to our school in September with a passion to help our students understand this part of our history.
Griffiths-Scott Middle School is one of Alberta’s first UNESCO Associated schools. We are committed to teaching and living human rights, respect for diversity, and social justice. We have been blessed to have a Cree elder, Mr. Joey Deschamps, who guides us in learning and incorporating Cree teachings in our school. Our school has moved to a restorative justice model of discipline, using healing circles with staff and students. So we decided as a school, that a focus for this year would be Residential Schools.
We jumped at the chance to take some of our leadership students to the education day at the TRC. It was a profound experience, a “changing day” in the lives of our students. Though much of the story was hard for them to hear, it was exciting to see them make connections and become inspired for change. They are sharing their experience and learning with the rest of our students, and I know that they will show leadership in bringing change. When I see their open hearts and their passion, I truly have hope for the future.
I learned today that many people who went to the Indian residential schools have come together to deal with that past. I learned that how they live today has been greatly influenced by that past and that there are still others who haven’t come to the point where they are able to.
The highlight of the education day was being able to meet together as a group and learn more about these survivors and the culture of healing. Krista Rogers, Grade 8 @ Griffiths-Scott Middle Schoo.l
I learned today how big this problem of residential school is. I learned how the First Nations people are resilient, how they are a thriving and contributing members of our society. I learned how devastating this problem of the residential school has been.
The highlight of the education day for me was to witness the different display of culture and heritage. I really liked the closing ceremony where I got to see different groups celebrating their culture and how the youth have taken on the fight to make it right.
Dustin Quinlan, Grade 8 @ Griffiths-Scott Middle School.
This experience has taught me about the children who were at residential schools. I learned about their treatment and the attempts to assimilate them into being ‘white folk’. I have learned that the children who ended up living @ the residential schools had to leave their parents and family for very long periods of time. This saddens me – I can’t imagine how they were able to survive there, yet many have and are here to tell their stories.
I think the highlight of this education day would be the closing ceremony because that was when I got to see and recognize more of the First Nation culture and identity. My favorite performance would be the throat singing. It has so much historical value and I feel that it was beautiful. It had such a haunting quality – it left me wanting to hear more.
Winter Eriksson, Grade 9 @ Griffiths-Scott Middle School.