Truth & Reconciliation
at Beurling Academy
by Ashley Rowley
Beurling Academy’s Cycle One students have been on the journey towards Truth & Reconciliation since early September. Ms. Macaskill & Mrs. Rowley wanted to ensure that their students learned about Canada’s hidden history.
The students read books by multiple Indigenous authors and built inquiry based questions on the variety of topics covered in the literature. Students participated in beading workshops under the guidance of Jessica Hernandez and Kateri Oesterreich. The workshops were designed so students could discover the importance of beading and the healing qualities behind it. Students wore their beaded Orange Shirt Day pins on September 30th, 2021 for the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
In October, students attended a ceremony where Jessica Hernandez and Kateri Oesterreich presented Project 215+, explained intergenerational trauma and discussed the importance of raising awareness to the true events of the past.
Finally, students were equipped to begin selecting & planning their own projects that would help with the Truth and Reconciliation process. Many were inspired by Jessica Hernandez and wanted to contribute to Project 215+. This is where the moccasin project came to be. Twenty-five of Beurling Academy’s cycle one students set out to create a pair of moccasins that they would later donate to Project 215+. Rebekah Elkerton, a celebrated beadwork artist, ran these workshops with the students over a series of three days. The finished moccasins will be displayed at the front of Beurling Academy until the end of the year as a memorial to honor the children who never made it home.
Another group of cycle one students thought it was important to have a mural dedicated to Truth and Reconciliation. The students’ hope was to create a talking piece that honored Indigenous culture and acknowledged the historical wrongdoings of the Canadian Government towards the Indigenous peoples. In order to get this done and create an exceptional piece, Beurling partnered with Inuk artist, Jason Sikoak. The piece was strategically placed at the entrance of the school. The students wanted it to be the first thing people saw when entering the building. The unveiling of this mural took place on April 29th, 2022. It was an intimate gathering where students, staff, parents, community partners, school board members, artists and community members came together to celebrate the students’ hard work and their journeys towards helping with Truth & Reconciliation.
Many other projects are still underway and we look forward to seeing the results of the students’ dedication to this topic.
This project marks the important journey Beurling Academy has been on to ensure that the missing pieces of history and culture are incorporated into the curriculum.