Exshaw School, Exshaw, Alberta
Kayla Dallyn and Genevieve Soler guided their grade 4 students from the Stoney Nakoda First Nation on Treaty 7 land through a journey to explore and deepen their understanding of their culture and history.
Their project was inspired by an art exhibit at the Whyte Museum in Banff entitled “100 Heads” by Christine Wignall. Wignall included the well-known Stoney Nakoda Chief, Walking Buffalo , in the exhibit, as well as two anonymous busts. She wanted to ensure the Stoney Nakoda people were represented even though she did not remember the names or stories of specific individuals.
Curious to learn more about their Stoney Nakoda ancestors, the students worked alongside Elders to trace their family lineages back several generations. Through oral histories and conversations with the Elders, the students learned about ancestors who made enduring contributions to the Stoney Nakoda community and to the Bow Valley region as a whole.
The students then identified a family member and worked under the mentorship of Wignall to complete their own sculptures. The busts were displayed at a community event where the students proudly shared their art and the stories they had learned though the Elders.
Their project, which centred on respectful collaboration with Stoney Nakoda Elders and community members, exemplifies an authentic approach to reconciliation that empowered young students to learn and to reclaim the stories of their ancestors.