Reconciliation begins to bud at Dalhousie Regional High School

Posted: April 11, 2018

For the grade 11 & 12 French Immersion class Canada’s residential school system and reconciliation have been integrated into their French Language Arts class.  Classroom teacher, Mme. Carole-Julie Savoie-Leblanc, created a month long unit for her students. Mme. Leblanc expressed the importance of teaching this to her students and being advocates for reconciliation as they prepare to venture into the world beyond high school.

With limited French Language resources on the topic Mme. Leblanc was able to cultivate meaningful lessons that engaged the students to learn about the reasoning behind the existence of the residential school system.

To ease into the topic students were given 17 research questions generated by Mme. Leblanc. The students were led through classroom discussions on their findings, such as important dates to remember, from the opening of the first school to the closing of the last one. They were able to talk and share their thoughts and feelings in an open and accepting environment.

Through classroom activities students read articles, and watched videos, and discussed the content as they learned about the impacts of these schools on Survivors, their friends and family, and communities.

As a final piece to their unit lessons, students were paired up to research the story of a Survivor. The student pairs had to create a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation for their classmates.

Two extension activities were added into the month long unit. The students were given an opportunity to pair up with one of Mr. Curry Winchester’s grade 12 class, to participate in the Kairos Blanket Exercise. The exercise is an interactive learning activity that walks you through key points of Indigenous Peoples’ history in Canada, from pre-contact and colonization up to contemporary times, making the learning of our shared history concrete for all participants. The Blanket Exercise was facilitated by members of the First Nations Education Team, First Nations Subject Coordinator Matthew Sweezey, and First Nations Leads Elizabeth Price and Patty Miller (Hachey).

The final extension activity was a legacy project. Students invited Mrs. Patty in the classroom to conclude this unit with the creation of a legacy dream catcher made of wooden pucks which symbolize the Survivors of the residential schools and commemorates the children who never returned. The students generated a written piece describing what their dream catcher represents. The dream catcher and description will be on display in the forum area at Dalhousie Regional High School.