Since February, my class and I have had the pleasure of working with the Simcoe County District School Board on a #CraftReconciliation project. This project started with a call to action from Wab Kinew inviting educators to partner “mainstream” classes with First Nation schools/classes to discuss “What does reconciliation look like?” Students got to know each other, share a bit about each others community and culture. Then, they came up with an answer to “What does reconciliation look like to us?” together. After determining what it looks like students modeled it in 3D using Minecraft.
Our students worked through Google Hangout as well as D2L to initially introduce each other and establish a community and set of norms. We then took time to discuss the idea of reconciliation. My grade 3 students had some background on this, as part of their social studies unit this year examines some historical perspectives of First Nations Peoples. From there our calls and research delved into understanding what reconciliation meant and we examined some historical issues of indigenous peoples in Canada such as residential schooling. I reached out to other teachers in the group for books to use with my young learners as this involved tackling some large and complex issues with third graders. As a result, I used a variety of texts to introduce and lead lessons. For example we read Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, Shi-Shi-etko and Shin-Chi’s Canoe by Nicola I Campbell. These books were extremely powerful, moving, and taught students about the horrible realities that young children their age faced and helped students come to an understanding of what our project was all about and why it was so important.
In our discussions we learned what the word stereotype meant and how they connected to indigenous people as well as to their own lives. We also briefly touched upon the The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada findings and the call to action to give them some understanding of what we were building in Minecraft.
From there we had many discussions as a class and with our new community members and decided what we would build and began building our new vision of Canada. Students created a variety of items including a multi-faith church, schools for all students, green spaces, flags that represented all people, shared parks and homeless shelters. Things weren’t always perfect when building. One day my students let me know that there were other students acting inappropriately in our world. There wasn’t much I could do on my end as students involved in the project were building in different part of the province and the chat feature had been disabled. The students however, figured out a way to construct signs and communicate messages back and forth to sort it out. So many teachable moments and so many skills were gained throughout this project for both myself and my students.
- what did you craft and explain how it represents your vision of reconciliation
- what did you learn, or ‘reflect on your learning’ throughout this project
- what is your final ‘take home message’ or hope for the future?
Here are some of the reflections of my students:
“I build a multi-faith church and inside there is a monastery. My craft makes me realize what when people come to church they can be free to learn about your culture…”.
“We crafted an all-people sharing school and how it represent our vision of reconciliation. We let all different cultures and beliefs of people come. All people can be different when they come together they can make something wonderful. We want people to realize when people of different cultures share their cultures, it makes Canada a truly great place of hope and joy”.
One of the moments that had the biggest impact on me happened one day when the students were building. I looked at the area we were building in together and I noticed that everyone had the exact same amount of space to build on. This was really powerful for me as historically, this is the complete opposite of what has happened to First Nations People who have been stripped of their land, robbed of their culture, religion and languages. In our new world, we were all being given equal space to build and we were free to work and learn together and learn from one another. It was a really touching and powerful moment for me as an educator and as a Canadian and it gave me hope for the future. I feel truly blessed to have been a part of this project and connected with other educators and learning alongside with my students. A special thanks to the Simcoe County District School Board and especially Jaclyn Calder for helping my students and I be apart of this amazing journey.