Holy Family School, Ottawa, Ontario
Barbara Ann Giroux knows that young learners need space for exploration, experimentation, and hands-on experiences in order to develop a deep understanding of, and connection to, their world. With this in mind, her grade one class embarked on a vibrant learning journey towards reconciliation. Through age-appropriate resources and books, including the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society’s Reconciliation Ambearrister program, Giroux introduced her young students to the history and legacy of the residential school system and encouraged them to consider their role in reconciliation.
From there, the students learned about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and formulated the driving question of their inquiry: “Do you think all children in Canada have the same rights?” Each week, the students would investigate one of the articles under the convention and contrast it against case studies in Canada that revealed the inequities faced by Indigenous children and youth. They learned about Inuit disc numbers, issues with ongoing boil water advisories, food insecurity, and inadequate housing in Canada, as well as youth activist Shannen Koostachin’s campaign to have a school built in her community of Attawapiskat First Nation. The students created posters to share their learning and posed their essential question to the older students in their school. Through this project, Giroux’s students developed critical-thinking skills, demonstrated empathy, and were empowered to use their knowledge of the past to make a difference in their community.