Elementary school students rewriting the TRC's calls to action... as poetry

Students at Winnipeg's École Laura Secord School are learning all about the history of residential schools and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action.
Rosanna Deerchild talks to students at Ecole Laura Secord School in Winnipeg.

Students at École Laura Secord School in Winnipeg are learning all about the history of residential schools and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 calls to action.

About a month ago the students from Grades 4 to 6 visited the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to learn about the history of residential schools.

And now the students are building on what they learned, examining the different calls to action and rewriting them though found poetry.
A student reading her poem created from one of the 94 calls to action. (Stephanie Cram/CBC)

"It's going well but it's hard 'cause it has a lot of legal language in there so it was really working though carefully helping them figure out what the big idea is and get that down to a sentence or two," said Stefanie Jones, one of the teachers involved in this project.

Some of the students became very emotional through this project, Jones explained, and are having a hard time learning about the history. But their understanding is reaffirming that they need to keep going and learning.

"The kids really have an understanding and we're often blown away by their understanding," she said.

The idea behind the project was for the children to each take a call to action and research all the words they don't understand. After understanding the words, they then found all the words in their call to action, "that spoke a message to them and from that they were to make a poem," said Jackie Cleave, another teacher involved in the project.
Julian's poem created from one of the calls to action.

Working from a call to action about language and culture, Julian, one of the students, said his poem is about fundamental rights.

"I thought it was the biggest thing that stood out because they are the First Nations, the first people to ever walk on Canada. So they are really valued and they're fundamental and it's Canadian culture and society and they live in it," he said.