Students and staff at Simon Fraser School looked past the Grand Narratives that have shaped our country for the last 150 years. We claim to be an inclusive, multi-cultural society that celebrates diversity. However, this was not always the case. Many First Nation people refuse to celebrate Canada’s 150th as they see it as celebrating 150 years of colonization and assimilation.
The intention of the project was to shed light onto the marginalized, unheard voices of Canadian history. It started off with Chanie Wenjack’s story, but quickly escalated to countless other residential school experiences.
Students participated in a residential school literature circle activity that consisted of both graphic novels and picture books. Each center had a book accompanied with discussion questions and/or an activity that helped the students look deeper into the perspectives and events that occurred.
Through their discussions, students made connections, analyzed symbols and thematic messages. Students were passionate about spreading awareness which sparked a need and want to educate and make our society aware of the atrocities behind Residential Schools.
In order to move forward, we must first acknowledge and educate others. It is part of the healing process. Students plan to do a “Walk for Wenjack” at the end of the year and are now eager to educate others about residential schools and what we can do to move forward as a nation.
Students now have a deeper understanding of how important culture is to our identity, and how dangerous assimilation really is. Students were able to bring the concept of assimilation to their own lives in a Middle School context.
The goal of these literature circles was to infuse an appreciation for literacy while also informing students of the dark stories that need to be included in Canada’s archive of stories.