Saturday, June 15, 2024

How do we teach the history of boarding school to Aboriginal children?

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Alan Binder
Alan Binder
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It’s only been three years since Katsie Little Bear Everest was telling the story of boarding schools in its classes.

A Mohawk teacher at Katree School in Kahnawake takes care of children ages 7 to 9 with special needs.

She explains that the history of boarding schools has not always been part of the programme. We weren’t stressing about boarding schools, and we weren’t discussing themas you say.

Ultimately, it was the testimony in the media for Cree Phyllis Webstad that led her to bring up the topic with her students. The latter had just gone to boarding school.

People across the country put on shoes in honor of the children who died at Kamloops Residential School.

Photo: CBC/Ivan Mitsui

Carmen Farris, a Cree language teacher, works at the Wymendji School in the James Bay area. The vast majority of its classes are made up of local students, but sometimes also non-native students.

in 3e and 4e In high school, I teach them what the residential school system is. I make sure they know what happened to the aboriginals in Canada. We talk about the implementation of colonial laws, the establishment of societies, Indian law and boarding you say.

Students sit at their desks in the classroom.

Residential school history can be taught at any age, according to Katsi Little-Bear Everstz.

Photo: Radio Canada / Claudian Samson

According to Little-Bear Everstz, the story of boarding schools can be told at any age. Some do it straight from the nursery, paying close attention to how they talk about it. The main goal is to make children aware of what might happen. It also gives them the opportunity, later, to explain all this past to their children, so that this story does not fall into oblivion., she explained.

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Choose the words

However, this teaching should be done with some precautions.

Katsie Little Bear Everests, a Mohawk teacher, says her main focus is on terms that come from boarding schools. Explain the words. I explain to them what mental, physical, verbal abuse is… but I don’t discuss sexual abuse, because they are still young., she explained.

Above all, she tries to get her students to put themselves in the shoes of the former residents of these boarding schools.

I put forward a lot of differences. I ask them how they would react if they had an aggressive teacher, if they were not allowed to go home to sleep, if they could not eat what they liked, if they were not treated with care and mercy.

Quote from:Catsy Little Bear Everests, owner

Exercise provokes different reactions. Mrs. Little-Bear Everstz says that some of her students are nervous or somewhat curious, while others do not seem to realize what I have just explained to them.

Majestic building on 4 levels with mountains in the background.

View of St. Eugene’s Residential School in Kamloops (date unknown).

Photo: National Center for Truth and Reconciliation

Professor Wafa also notes different reactions from her students. Some hear about it for the first time, they are very surprised, they wonder why this happened. Others are more curious and would like to talk to people who have had this experience., are reports.

One thing is for sure, Little-Bear Everstz makes a point of telling parents that boarding schools will be a topic of discussion during the school year. The idea is to prepare them to answer any questions their children might have about their family, if a family member is already a resident.

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According to Ms. Faries, educational exercise, when you are a member of a community, takes on a whole new dimension. The fact that I myself am a Cree makes what I teach even more relevant. It makes things more real when I share my experienceas you say.

young girl.

Aboriginal children react differently when they learn about the history of boarding schools. Some are curious, some are angry.

Photo: The Canadian Press/Chris Young

None of the teachers attended boarding school, but all knew a former resident in their family or community. So they are close to this still life story and they can easily feel the shock.

Teaching the history of boarding schools, according to Ms. Varese, also allows young people to understand social issues currently affecting communities.

The two women spoke about events in Kamloops, British Columbia, a few weeks ago. Like the entire community, they were in shock, but they still had to answer the questions of their students.

Many have heard about it on the radio or from their parents, says Little-Bear Everstz. I gave them a safe space to express their feelings.

As for Mrs. Varese, she could only bring up the topic at the end of the day. But she also believes that it is very important to explain the events to the children. This is an example we used to illustrate what really happenedas you say.

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