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'I'm going to be a part of that': Elementary school students commit to take action on reconciliation

Students from Winnipeg's Ecole Laura Secord School are in the midst of a months-long project that will help other children understand how they can make a difference when it comes to the Truth and Reconciliation's Calls to Action.
Laura Secord School teacher Jackie Cleave shows students Leah Mackinnon, centre, and Cooper Johnson, right, some of the displays about residential schools at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. (CBC)

Students from Winnipeg's École Laura Secord School are in the midst of a months-long project that will help other children understand how they can make a difference when it comes to the Truth and Reconciliation's calls to action.

More than 70 students in Grades 4 to 6 visited the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to learn more about the history of residential schools. Later in the year, they will start examining the calls to action and rewrite them in more child-friendly language.
Author, David A. Robertson, speaks with a student at the Canadian Museum For Human Rights after reading his book, 'When We Were Alone'. (CBC/Tyson Koschik)

Part of their visit was spent hearing from Cree author, David A. Robertson. He read from his Governor General's Literary Award nominated book, When We Were Alone.

In the book, a grandmother shares her story about life in residential school with her granddaughter, and explains how she's reclaimed what was lost from it. 

"To know that kids are learning about it at a younger age, it's very hopeful. And I really do think it's something we should start teaching them about in Kindergarten right through to Grade 12," Robertson said. "To see that being done in a lot of provinces now is something I love to see."

An illustration by Julie Flett, in the book, 'When We Were Alone', by David A. Robertson (HighWater Press/CBC)

Grade 6 student Leah Mackinnon says hearing Robertson's story was emotional for her.

"I thought he really got the point clear across that it was bad and how like they experienced the residential schools and it made me feel kind of sad thinking about it, like if it happened to me," she said.

The students hope to present their version of the TRC's calls to action to former chair, Senator Murray Sinclair. They will also share them with other schools. In the new year, their goal is to figure out what actions they can take to be part of reconciliation.

"It's cool because I can tell other people and say that this happened and that it should never happen again," said Cooper Johnson. 
Students from Laura Secord School are in the midst of a months-long project that will help other children understand how they can make a difference when it comes to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action. 2:25