by Stephen Dafoe
The sign at the entrance to Morinville Public School was surrounded with love and loving messages Wednesday morning, part of an opportunity for students to celebrate International Peace Day and learn about the importance of Truth and Reconciliation.
School Counsellor Cindy Vandervaate was joined by students Adyson Bradley, Paul Colcy, and Marissa Duckworth on a damp, chilly morning to plant the garden with heart-shaped messages, including Stand Up – Stand Out, I hope you are safe, and Forgive.
“We’re teaching the kids about residential schools and survivors of residential schools,” Vandervaate said. “So the Heart Garden is to represent all the survivors of residential schools. We’re going to plant them all around the sign.”
Another initiative the school has undertaken is the school’s Project of Heart, a project to commemorate the lives of the thousands of Indigenous children who died as a result of the residential school experience.
The school’s teachers and students have been painting tiny individual tiles, the outside of which are painted black to represent those who died in residential schools. The tops are painted with a variety of designs, but only after a lesson has been learned. The tiles will be assembled into a table top.
“I wanted to have it done for June 21st for Aboriginal Day,” said Vice Principal Kerri Trombley, noting she did not simply want students and staff to do the tiles without learning something and reflecting on the lesson learned.
The school hopes to have the project completed for the national ORANGE SHIRT DAY: Every Child Matters event on Sept. 30. As Sept. 30 falls on a Saturday, students will recognize the day and wear their orange shirts on Sept. 29.