May 23, 2014 8:44 pm

High school students use art to reflect on residential school legacy

Students coloured inch-long tiles for the weeks-long unit. The tiles were smudged by the students Friday morning.

Graeme Matheson / Global News

REGINA – Grade nine students at Martin Collegiate completed a memorial plaque today to culminate a unit on residential schools, and reflect on its lasting effects on Aboriginal people.

“The Project of Heart is a way to memorialize residential school survivors and, also, those who did not survive,” said Kendra Beliveau, a Grade 9 teacher at the school.

Students coloured inch-long rectangular tiles for the weeks-long unit. The tiles were smudged by the students Friday morning.

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“If [the tiles] have black on the outside (perimeter), that represents someone who did not survive,” said Beliveau.

Adrianna Krznar, a student at the school, painted polar bears on her tiles.

“My [grandmother], who went to a residential school, I believe, loves polar bears. There’s multiple other things in her house with polar bears all over it,” she said.

Janessa Stone and three other students drew a dream catcher spanning several tiles, because it represents their Métis culture.

“You can hang it in your vehicles, or in your rooms, and some people believe that it can take away your bad dreams,” she said.

Noel Starblanket, an elder in residence for Regina Public Schools, spent 11 years in a residential school. He was on hand for today’s event.

“At the end, they asked questions about what’s going to happen when everyone else is gone, and I simply told them, ‘The responsibility is now yours to ensure that these things never happen again.’ And, today, these kids accepted that responsibility, and that was the most beautiful part of it,” said Starblanket.

The plaque will be hung in the school for the foreseeable future.

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