James Fowler High School Education for Reconciliation

Nov. 06, 2018

​Students build foundational knowledge of First Nations, Métis and Inuit in Canada through film screening of Indian Horse.

Painting by Grade 12 student representing the impacts of Residential Schools and assimilation on Indigenous peoples in Canada.


This fall, James Fowler's entire student body, along with its teachers, attended a screening of the Residential School story Indian Horse. The film is based on the award-winning novel by respected Ojibway author Richard Wagamese.

Our morning began with an acknowledgement of the land by two of our Council of Aboriginal Students and Allies (CASA) students. There followed a video created by another of our Grade 12 students, Alida C., who made a "speed paint" with voice overs by some of our own James Fowler students whose families have been impacted by the inter-generational trauma of residential schools. These students spoke to the lasting legacy of the schools resulting from the policies of forced assimilation and the all too common abuse suffered by so many thousands of children.

Our students were well prepared for the sensitive nature of the film and they watched engaged and engrossed for the full 100 minutes of the film, greeting the end of the film with both tears and applause. Following the film, students got to hear from the author of the screenplay for Indian Horse, acclaimed playwright, novelist and screenwriter Dennis Foon.

Feedback from students was incredibly positive, with many students echoing the sentiments of this Grade 10 student:

“We learn about this stuff in textbooks, but it I never realized the impact of it until this movie."

A Grade 12 student added “[the movie] helps show the importance of having a support system. It also shows the effects residential schools had on people. Understanding this can help open up conversations, bringing us together.”

We also received feedback from some parents that was very positive:

“… my son is in Grade 10 at James Fowler and I just wanted to thank you for supporting your Indigenous and Inuit students and for creating this meaningful learning opportunity for all students. The subject matter may be difficult but it is so important and exactly the kind of thing our kids need to experience.”

Screenplay author Dennis Foon addresses the audience after the film.