FORT ST. JOHN, BC – A sixth-grade class at Anne Roberts Young Elementary School took extra steps to honor the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by engaging students in a blanket activity.
Pat Jansen, district director of the Indigenous Education Program, said each blanket represented a piece of Canada, known as Turtle Island in Indigenous culture.
“The students are on their own traditional land, and they see how the land has been slowly taken away from them and how their lives have changed because of it,” Jansen said.
“Much of the Aboriginal culture has changed because of displacement.
Students read through history, taking turns reading scrolls containing information on a variety of topics, such as the Veterans Act, Treaties, Residential Schools, and Shannon’s Dream.
The activity also included artifacts representing Aboriginal culture.
The students were grateful for the experience and left the activity with a better understanding of the meaning of truth and reconciliation.
The class teacher, Jason English, believes that implementing these types of activities into the school curriculum is a powerful way to send the message of truth and reconciliation.
“I don’t think students of the past had a chance to see black and white history in harsh terms and how sad it was to see how people were treated,” English said.
“I think the practical stuff, the learning as the blankets come off and the students are put into boarding schools, my students can relate to that.”
Jansen said that while it’s not always an easy subject, it’s important for children to learn about the history of the land they live on.
“It can trigger emotions and it’s disheartening, but it also leaves kids with a sense of reconciliation,” Jansen said.
“As a people, it is important that we understand where we come from. If you understand where you come from, then you understand where you are going.
The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation takes place this Friday, September 30.