Video by Morell high school students explores history of residential schools

A class of Grade 12 students at Morell Regional High School have created a video that will be presented at the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights Day event on Monday.

The video will be presented at an event Monday organized by the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission

Students in a Global Issues class at Morell Regional High School worked together to make a video about the history of residential schools. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

A class of Grade 12 students at Morell Regional High School have spent weeks learning a whole new set of skills — how to write, film and edit their own seven-minute film.

It's all in the name of learning about — and sharing — important lessons from Canada's history.

In their Global Issues class, the students created a video that will be presented at the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission's Human Rights Day event on Monday. The video focuses on the history of residential schools — a topic the students have been learning about in class.

"I didn't know much about it, so actually getting to hear the stories was really eye opening," said student Rachell Bradley.

'Really eye opening'

The film tells the story of a student who learns in class about the history of residential schools, and then goes home and talks to her mother, who is a residential school survivor.

Filmmaker Eliza Knockwood mentored the students, teaching them about what goes into making a film. The students also heard from various guest speakers, including a residential school survivor.

Students planned, filmed and edited the video themselves. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Bradley said hearing stories directly from people affected by residential schools helped her understand the history. 

"Canada's known kind of for being a really friendly, welcoming country … but kind of learning about the negative legacy we have that, kind of, people like to sweep under the rug a bit was really eye opening," she said.

'It's important to everybody'

Learning about residential schools and the Sixties Scoop is not a required topic in the Global Issues curriculum. Teacher Brett Wilson said he wanted to focus on it because he thinks it's an important — and timely — topic.

"This is something that has been in the news quite a bit over the last couple of years. And so when we were discovering different stories, it has come up as an area of attention," Wilson said.

Teacher Brett Wilson said he thought it was important to teach his Global Issues class about Indigenous history and reconciliation. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

He also noted that many students at Morell Regional High School are from Abegweit First Nation in nearby Scotchfort. 

"These are our friends, our peers, our community members, and relatives as well too, so it's important to everybody."

Sharing story with others

Wilson said many students in his class didn't know much about residential schools at the start of the unit, but he's happy to see how much they've learned, and embraced the project they've been working on.

Students Rachell Bradley (left) and Kate Compton say they've learned a lot about the history of residential schools, and they hope others will too. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

The students hope others who see the video will learn something from it.

"We're all hoping that other people are going to see this video and hopefully other people are going to recognize how important this truth and reconciliation is going to be for Canada as a whole," said student Kate Compton.