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Moncton students learn about Truth and Reconciliation through range of activities

Click to play video: 'Moncton students learn about the reality of residential schools ahead of Truth and Reconciliation day'
Moncton students learn about the reality of residential schools ahead of Truth and Reconciliation day
WATCH: Students at a Moncton middle school have been learning about the history of Canada's first nations this week. Suzanne Lapointe spoke to a Birchmount School student about what she's been learning ahead of Truth and Reconciliation day. – Sep 28, 2023

Students like Annie Russell at Birchmount School in Moncton have been participating in various activities, like participating in a sacred fir and making dreamcatchers ahead of Truth and Reconciliation Day.

The day is about the survivors of Canada’s residential schools and the children who died in them and never made it home.

“This week we’ve been learning a lot about what was happening in the residential schools,” Russell, who is a Grade 7 student at the school, said.

“In English class we’ve been learning about what happened to them in the schools and doing a lot of projects about how it happened,” she said.

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The Anglophone East School District has an Indigenous education team in charge of developing lessons about First Nations throughout the school year.

Teacher Melanie Doucette said teaching students about the harsh realities of residential schools is different depending on the age group.

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“The older that they get we do tell them about the reality and what happened in a more simplified way. One of the points we want to make (First Nations culture) more visible so they’re part of the décor of our school,” she said in an interview.

Some dreamcatchers she made with students out of vegan leather are on display in the hall, along with the phrase, “Every dream matters,” in English, French and Mi’kmaq.

Doucette said Virginia Vicaire, a Mi’kmaq teacher who works at the school, helped the children make dreamcatchers, an Ojibwe tradition.

“She taught us about the meaning of dream catchers was to let through the good dreams through the spiderweb and then the spiders would stop the bad dreams,” she said.

Doucette said there is also a Reconciliation Food Forest behind the school, which contains trees native to the region, as well as signs indicating how Mi’kmaq people used the plants.

Annie Russell helped plant the garden two years ago, and said she wants to learn more about First Nations history and culture.

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