Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 48

48 Arctic Yearbook 2014 assimilation policies,4 in order to nurture critical thinking and civic engagement amongst students, and to move into the future with “greater respect and understanding between First Peoples of Canada and everyone else who calls this land home” (The Residential School System… 2013: 5). The module was created in consultation between territorial curriculum writers and former residential school students and territorial leaders. The curriculum writers asked, “What would you want your children or grand-children to know, think, and feel about residential schools when they have completed this module?” (Fowler & Willett 2014: 40). The leaders wanted students to understand that this is a complex story where happiness was found in unexpected places, and where tragedy occurred in places where those most vulnerable should have been safe. They wanted their children to know the many truths. However, these leaders did not want their children to feel that they had to carry the burden of the past into their own futures. Instead, they recommended that students learn about what we should do now, and to think about the ways in which Canada can work towards becoming a healthy nation - a place where we can all be proud of who we are and where we come from (Fowler & Willett 2014). The resulting teaching and learning resource materials were designed with this guidance in mind, and explains the materials’ structure, following twelve learning activities through an ‘arc.’ Activity 1 begins by exploring how young children demonstrated independence and strength before the introduction of residential schools. The activities in the middle section of the arc explore the darker times whey many colonial policies and practices at residential schools attempted to destroy people’s sense of identity. In the final activities, the arc moves towards healing relationships, with the goal of returning to that original place of independence and strength. The Nunavut and NWT approach to engaging its students with difficult history relies on a combination of storytelling, critical and social awareness pedagogies. The territories’ residential schools module uses both conflictual content, which is curricular material that presents multiple perspectives on a political or social issue, and conflictual pedagogy, which is an instructional approach that supports and encourages the student expression of ideas (Avery & Hahn 2004). For example, the teacher’s guide explains, “The purpose here is for students to discuss reconciliation…to think critically about these processes, and to consider their own role in them (The Residential School System in Canada 2013: 5). In Activity 3, students watch video footage of the federal apology, read about and discuss responses to it, practicing group consensus and decision making skills. Students examine the history of residential schools in Activities 4-7, evaluating key policies and perspectives that established the schools’ framework. Activity 4 assigned students a creative project to demonstrate personal understanding of the consequences of residential schools on contemporary communities (Residential School System… 2013). An example of the module’s creative approach to student learning is demonstrated through the wall mounted banner timeline used in Activity 5. The banner displayed the history of colonial and assimilation policies in classrooms. Activity 5’s objective is for students to apply “critical thinking skills to analyze and deconstruct these policies from a historical perspective,” (Residential School System Daitch