PEI

Students learn about residential schools experience in new course

Students at Summerside Intermediate School in Summerside, P.E.I., took part in a blanket ceremony Friday as part of learning about what happened at residential schools.

'They're going to be looking at things a lot differently now.' - Gilbert Sark

Summerside Intermediate School students participate in a blanket ceremony on Friday. (CBC)

Students at Summerside Intermediate School in Summerside, P.E.I., took part in a blanket ceremony Friday as part of learning about what happened at residential schools.

You got taken out of your home and discriminated against just because you're a different race. I think that's so wrong.- Julia Johnson

Student Marcus Gauthier said he knew nothing about this part of Canada's history.

"And how drastic the circumstances were for these students was insane."

During the blanket ceremony the space the students stood on got smaller and smaller. This helped teach the students the significance of the loss of land, culture, dignity and respect.

At the end of the ceremony, the blankets were unfolded, which signified the hope of a new day.

New understanding

Maggie Campbell said she hopes what they learned in the new residential school course, Practicing Reconciliation through Education, will help drop barriers between the communities.

A drum made by Summerside Intermediate School students as part of a new course on residential schools waits to be played during the blanket ceremony. (CBC)
"When you hear what some of them went through and how it affected the whole community, it really brings it to light that they are struggling and they do need help."

Gilbert Sark of Lennox Island First Nation worked with the students to help them make a drum, and taught them the traditions behind it.

Sark's grandfather went to a residential school, and struggled after that experience. Sark said having a class like this one is a good step forward.

More respect

"They're going to be looking at things a lot differently now and hopefully that's a good thing," Sark said.
Gilbert Sark says he hopes students look at things differently after learning about residential schools. (CBC)

Julia Johnson said she has a lot more respect now for First Nations people knowing what they've been through.

"You got taken out of your home and discriminated against just because you're a different race. I think that's so wrong."

The new 45-minute classes ran every day for six to eight weeks. The course was developed on P.E.I. with the help of the Mi'kmaq Confederacy.

With files from Laura Chapin

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