A new challenge has been issued for First Nations and non-First Nations students to discuss reconciliation in a creative way — through the computer game Minecraft.
Wab Kinew, a musician, broadcaster, university administrator and author — originally from Onigaming First Nation in northwestern Ontario — issued the challenge via Facebook.
The challenge invites educators to partner First Nations and non-First Nations classes to discuss what reconciliation looks like. Students will get to know one another online, share information about community and culture and then discuss reconciliation. From there, students will model it using the computer game Minecraft or another creative medium.
Students at Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island and students with the Simcoe County District School Board have created a partnership and will take part.
"The point of the project is … for the students to have the conversation about what reconciliation is and what it might look like," Julie Balen, a teacher at Wikwemikong High School said.
"The brilliance of Wab's project, this challenge, is that he has tied it to Minecraft because students are already engaged in Minecraft. They are already playing and so they are already likely to be engaged in this conversation."
Balen admits that not all students are interested in playing Minecraft, and said they will be able to take part through other creative ways.
"They'll be able to craft what they think reconciliation looks like in another way. They can build a Wiki page, they can write a song, they can paint."
'Connection can carry us a whole lifetime'
Balen said the topic of reconciliation is starting to be discussed more often in her school, especially with the release of the Truth and Reconciliation report last year.
"All of our students … they're the next generation. They're the ones who are really going to have to come to terms with reconciliation [and] understand it," she said.
"When we have conversations together, when we get together and collaborate and we learn together, then that personal connection can carry us a whole lifetime."
The students at the two schools will start talking in February, after the current semester wraps up, Balen said.
Kinew asks once students start crafting reconciliation, that teachers tweet out a picture of the work with the hashtag #CraftReconciliation.