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FORT ST. JOHN, BC- A grade six class at Anne Roberts Young elementary school took extra steps in honouring National Day of Truth and Reconciliation by engaging students in a blanket activity. 

Pat Jansen, Indigenous Education Program district principal, said each blanket represented a piece of Canada, known as part of Turtle Island in Indigenous culture. 

Each blanket represented a piece of traditional land known as part of Turtle Island. ( Jordan Prentice, Energeticcity.ca )

“The students are on their own traditional lands, and they experience how the land was slowly taken away, and how their life had changed because of that,” said Jansen. 

“A lot of Indigenous culture changed because of the displacement.”

Students moved through history, taking turns reading from scrolls with information on a variety of topics, such as the veteran act, treaties, residential schools, and Shannon’s Dream. 

The activity also included artifacts representing Indigenous culture. 

Students had the opportunity to get hands-on with different Indigenous artifacts. ( Jordan Prentice, Energeticcity.ca )

Students were grateful for the experience and left the activity with a better understanding of the meaning of truth and reconciliation. 

The class’s teacher, Jason English, believes implementing these types of activities into the curriculum is a powerful way to send the message of truth and reconciliation.

“I don’t think students in the past had the opportunity to see the history in black and white in harsh terms and how sad it was to see how people were treated,” said English. 

“I think the hands-on stuff, learning as the blankets are removed and the students are put into residential schools, my students can empathize with that.”

Jansen said although it’s not always an easy topic, it’s important for children to learn the history of the land they live on. 

“It can be emotionally triggering, and it’s disheartening, but it also leaves the kids with a sense of reconciliation,” said Jansen.

“As a people, it’s important that we understand where we came from. If you understand where you came from, then you understand where you’re going.” 

National Day of Truth and Reconciliation takes place this Friday, September 30th.

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Jordan Prentice is a multimedia reporter for energeticcity.ca and a recent graduate of BCIT’s Broadcast and Online Journalism program. Born and raised in Vancouver, Jordan’s passion for broadcast and journalism began with her dream of becoming a hockey journalist and play-by-play commentator. During her schooling, Jordan discovered a deep passion for reporting on Indigenous issues, culture and affairs. Jordan is also passionate about connecting with and listening to stories from people...