At the beginning of this school year, grade 3 students embarked on a new learning journey. With an increased focus on the experiences of Indigenous communities in Canada’s history, our students gained a better understanding of what it means to apologize, what reconciliation means, and how we can help to make things right with Indigenous people.
The question posed to the grade 3 students was, “Why should our government be apologizing to Indigenous people?” The enthusiasm with which the grade 3 students approached this topic and the depth of questions asked along the way were simply astounding. Many adults continue to grapple with this important question. Some might wonder how eight- and nine-year-old children could possibly begin to understand these complicated issues. Well, not only did the grade 3 students learn more than we could have imagined, they also showed incredible initiative and leadership in doing their part to help Make the World Better.
After working with this year’s artist in residence – Lindy Kinoshameg from Wiikwemkoong Unceded First Nation – to develop and write a Land Acknowledgement, our students then considered how they might inform the rest of KCS about what a Land Acknowledgement is and why it is so important. Some students decided to share what they had learned by making posters to hang in all of the classrooms. Other students took on the job of creating a presentation to share with each class at KCS. They wanted to give all students some background knowledge before the Land Acknowledgement was introduced to the school. At Lindy’s final assembly at KCS, a small group of students excitedly shared the Land Acknowledgement with the entire community.
KCS teachers and students were impressed by what the grade 3 students were able to do. During the class presentations, our students received many compliments about their strong speaking skills and depth of knowledge. The grade 7s and 8s were especially impressed by the vocabulary used during these presentations. After all, ‘assimilation’ and ‘reconciliation’ are words studied in intermediate history classes!
The grade 3 students will remember all that they have learned through this experience. By letting the students drive their own learning, and by supporting them in their efforts to Lead to Make a Difference and Make the World Better, we were all reminded of the power of Project Based Learning.
So, if you have a problem to solve, try getting a young person involved in finding a solution. You will be amazed by the passion, persistence, and determination they will show when faced with a real-life challenge.