Learning about Truth and Reconciliation: Student Reflections
One of W.A Fraser Middle’s grade 6 teachers, Crystal Davids, was moved by the powerful stories from the Walking Forward Together conference to bring truth to our students around the impact of racist legislation, cultural theft, and residential schools. Mrs. Davids “felt like I wanted to do more” to move forward with her class in discussions around Truth and Reconciliation.
Initially, Mrs. Davids was “hesitant and thoughtful about this whole new project, but I didn't want this to be my excuse NOT to do something.” Mrs. Davids embodied the words of Dene, Fort Nelson First Nations, Merideth Rusk, Dene, Fort Nelson First Nation, who shares:
“You don’t have to be Indigenous to teach it. If you don’t know what it’s about, then…look it up. Learn about it; sometimes, you might be learning some of this with the students.”
Mrs. Davids lived this advice, sharing, “I felt like I didn't know enough to actually do more but learning little bits each week and sharing those little bits with my students the next day is part of my journey of Truth and Reconciliation. I am literally one step (or one NIGHT) ahead of them - I am learning on Thursday, using it in class Friday, and learning from students in the process.”
The results are seen through the reflections of her students who challenge us:
“I did not care about the pain of other people except for family but after reading about Indigenous war heroes, and I now know how to show empathy towards others that need it.”
“It felt weird to me that Indigenous Canadians would serve a country that didn’t give them the same rights as other Canadians. It has changed my thinking because why would they serve a country that took their kids away and their cultures?”
“One thing from all our T&R lessons that struck me was that it took till 2007 to start the UNDRIP and the rights are rights that everybody should have.”
“I have learned how strong the Indigenous community is and how badly they have been treated in the past. It is very powerful to see how resilient the Indigenous peoples have been in history. I think it is extremely important for future generations to learn about this and do better.”
“One thing that stuck with me was the fact that they were sent away from their families to go to residential schools. It has changed my thinking because no one should have to be sent away from their families to go to school.”
Filled with knowledge and empathy, students in the class do not shy away from asking important and sometimes uncomfortable questions. In the end, "...now when I hear the land acknowledgement, I don’t just hear the words, I understand what they mean and why it is important to acknowledge the land we live on,” knowing “...that this world can have a big change from what happened in the past.” The importance “for future generations to learn about this and do better.”
Mrs. Davids and her class are already doing just that.
GRAEME KEMP, VICE-PRINCIPAL
W.A. Fraser Middle School