PEI

Island students win national history project competition

When-13-year old Basel Alrashdan chose a heritage fair topic, he decided to focus on Canada's Indigenous people, and the history of treaties in this country.

2 of the 6 winners of the 2018 Young Citizens program are from P.E.I.

Basel Alrashdan is one of six students from across the country to win the 2018 Young Citizens program. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

When 13-year-old Basel Alrashdan chose a heritage fair topic, he decided to focus on Canada's Indigenous people, and the history of treaties in this country. 

"It was mainly focusing about how the Canadians, they made treaties with Indigenous peoples. And then the Indigenous people were bullied, they were broken. We need to talk about this," Alrashdan said. 

Now, he is sharing his message on a national level. Alrashdan was recently named one of six winners of the 2018 Young Citizens program, organized by Canada's History Society. 

2 winners from P.E.I. 

Students from across the country submitted videos on history topics ranging from the Spanish flu epidemic, to stories of the Vietnamese boat people, to the first French-Canadian woman to become a doctor. 

The Island is well represented, with two of the winners being from P.E.I. Oscar Cormier, who has since moved to Ontario, won for his project on his great-grandfather, called The Spy from P.E.I.

If we weren't told about what happened in the past, then we'll possibly make the same mistakes in the future.- Basel Alrashdan

Alrashdan's project was largely inspired by his friendship with residential school survivor Charlotte Morris. Alrashdan, who came to Canada from Syria in 2015, was struck by the differences his experiences in Canada, and Morris'. 

While he was "welcomed with warmth and happiness," he says he felt some guilt hearing about Morris' experiences, and wanted to share her story. 

Basel Alrashdan was inspired by Charlotte Morris and her experience as a residential school survivor. (Stephanie Kelly/CBC)

Since completing his project, he says he's heard from some people who didn't know much about Canada's residential school history.

"If we weren't told about what happened in the past, then we'll possibly make the same mistakes in the future. So I'm glad that I could tell this to Canada-wide."

Travel to Ottawa

The winners will travel to Ottawa in January to participate in Canada's History Forum, and explore the capital. 

Alrashdan says he is looking forward to learning more about the first and second world wars, and what happened to indigenous people during the wars. He is also looking forward to meeting the other winners. 

"I want to meet these other people, and ask them about their experience about doing their heritage fair projects, so maybe next year I can even improve even more," he said.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning

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