RECIPIENTS OF GRANTS IN SUPPORT
OF SOCIAL JUSTICE LEARNING
Strathcona Founding Cultures Strathcona High School, Edmonton
This program provides a welcoming space for cultural exchanges for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and serves to Indigenize spaces at their school. It utilizes both traditional and contemporary knowledge to develop students’ capacity for leadership skills through leading sharing circles, group facilitation, and event planning. The Founding Cultures program aims to provide a physical space with culturally relevant aids, mentors, food and supplies that can enhance students’ learning growth and achievement. This year, a family night was organized to host Dallas Arcand, a three time world champion hoop dancer. Through the program, students had access to knowledge keepers, attended field trips and conferences, and had weekly meetings with the club.
Kitscoty Elementary Reconciliation Mural Kitscoty Elementary School, Kitscoty
Métis artist Danielle Vachon along with teacher Koreyan Peterson led the students on a journey to connect themselves with the land from the perspectives of Inuit, First Nations, and Métis groups, and to develop their own personalizations of these connections. The students worked independently and together in large groups to paint small canvases of their personal land connections which the artist and teacher will place into a larger mural representing landforms in the territory. The mural will be hung in the entryway of the school with the statement: As long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the waters flow... We are all treaty people. This project achieved its goals of increased understanding of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit culture and learnings within the community, increased empathy towards Indigenous groups with a focus on reconciliation, and a visual representation of the learning that is accessible to community members.
Student Voices: "I liked learning more about how First Nations lived on the land. It was neat to see how much was the same between what they used to do and what we do now."
"I learned about memory pouches where First Nations people would put items into their bags from nature that helped them store memories."
Intergenerational Program Sturgeon Heights School, Sturgeon Heights
Sturgeon Heights School piloted its first intergenerational program (SHIP), promoting positive interactions between younger and older generations between Grade 2 students and seniors from West Country Hearth. The excitement both groups felt to see each other grew with each successive visit. Parents also reported a greater awareness and respect for seniors from the students. SHIP will expand into junior high next year, with junior high students leading younger students on monthly visits with seniors.
Parent Voices: "My daughter looks forward to each of these visits and finds them to very interesting. I feel she learned many life skills from these interactions."
"A part of this program taught my children how to loom knit together with their senior friends. This motivated me, a Mom, to learn how to loom knit so my children and I could enjoy quality time together and one day, we can pass this skill along to future generations. Our family is now able to give back more to our community in need, with loom knit hats, warmers, and scarves. Since participating in this program, I find my children looking for ways to support their community that are outside of the box and having the confidence that their ideas can and will make a difference."
Online GSA Forum Argyll Centre, Edmonton
An online GSA forum will be created to provide students a safe space to connect, share resources, and build relationships district wide. An online space will help to foster a sense of belonging for LGBTQ students both within their respective schools and within Edmonton. The online forum will include storytelling projects, weekly guests, and large gatherings interspersed throughout the year to celebrate the completion of storytelling projects and connect students with resources in the city.
Diversity Conference Bob Edwards School, Calgary
Students attended the 15th annual Diversity and Peace Conference, with the theme being "We Walk As One". The many sessions offered during the conference encouraged students to walk as one. The conference addressed issues of racism, bullying, and discrimination, and promoted peace not only as the absence of conflict but as a way of life. Students had the opportunity to hear keynote speaker Wendy Wilson, the Cultural Artistic Director at One World GlobalFest, and served as hosts for the breakout sessions. Students have already been asking if they can have another conference!
Reconciliation Through Artistic Expression Ochre Park School, Redwater
This experiential reconciliation project allowed every student in the school an opportunity to learn about land and water connections from an Indigenous perspective thanks to visits from Celina Loyer who shared a Cree and Métis understanding of land, water, and animal connections. Grade 3 and 4 classrooms learned about Treaty rights and were able to see and touch a Treaty 6 medal. To artistically express the learning, every child is decorating a square with a symbol they feel represents what they learned in the teaching. Once all of the squares are completed, they will be sewn together into a quilt that will be displayed as a symbol of the start of a journey in understanding and learning about reconciliation and Indigenous culture and history. Many students also learned about themselves as Indigenous people and connected to the cultural aspects of information shared by Celina.
Student Voices: "I learned that you are either Métis or you aren't and there is no percentage of First Nations that I have to be to be Métis."
"I learned that they signed a Treaty and that the government would give them food, healthcare and somewhere to live, but the government didn't keep their promise.
GSA - Creating Safe Spaces Greystone Centennial Middle School, Spruce Grove
The members of the GSA are creating safe spaces for marginalized students by initiating a student-run project to reclaim the word "gay" through a professional quality public service announcement video that educates and does not shame. This project has created leadership opportunities for marginalized students and is educating the community about how they can continue in creating safe spaces for all groups. Students were able to find a way to channel their hope for a more unified community through the medium of film. have learned how to create and deliver a social justice message in a way that produces empathy, compassion, and perhaps even allies. Students were driven, committed, and inspired by this project.
Student Voices: "We made this video to make a positive impact on GSAs all around and we can send this to make other LGBTQ groups feel safer."
"We made a lot of people think differently about the word gay, even though we haven't even posted the video yet."
Building a "Bee Friendly" Community Beaumont Composite High School, Beaumont
This project provided students an urban environment to learn about and take action to address shrinking wild bee populations and environmental sustainability in central Alberta. Students participated in cross-grade student research, public education on wild bees and pesticides, and building a bee habitat ('hotels' and foraging environment).
Student Voices "It was a super cool experience. I learned a lot about bees and my favourite part was getting to build bee hotels."
"I believe that our high school bee group has successfully raised awareness for this issue and has motivated others to take initiative towards change with us. It was a great experience to have and it feels rewarding to positively help the world we live in, even if it's just a small step."
Called to Serve St. Michael Elementary and Junior High School, Calgary
In support of feeling safe, valued, and connected to their school community, students participated in a Social Justice class, with a focus on showing kindness. Students baked, cooked, assembled and gave away cookie and soup packages for families in need within their school community. Social justice takes on many forms in a diverse community: participating in activities that are part of a "greater good" encouraged students to engage in reflection about the support they provided and the impacts of helping.
Student Voice: "Social Justice was fun because were were helping the community. It felt good giving back and working with your friends towards a common goal. My favourite project was making the hampers and cooking - it felt like we were really helping others. I also liked writing the cards with nice messages to people. I think it really made their day."
Screaming for Change: The Power of Protest Songs Next Step High School, Sherwood Park
Students worked with a local musician to write and compose a labour rights/protest song to be performed and recorded to share online. This project educated the student population on the importance of workers' rights by using music as a springboard to explore these issues. Listen to the song here!
Student Voice: "It was worth it seeing the effect that it had on students and teachers alike. Learning about issues in your own community should always be a priority, as you can be the one to change them."
The Reconciliation Project École Voyageur, Cold Lake
Students connected with a First Nations community to learn about that culture and develop strategies for lifelong cooperation between communities. Students participated in Orange Shirt Day, a blanket exercise, learning from guest speakers, and meeting with members of the First Nations community. The projected contributed to the school's mission of social justice in their community, and supported students in sharing and learning to respect diversity.
Community Connection Woodhaven Middle School, Spruce Grove
This program furthers the knowledge, empathy, and ability of students to work towards bettering the lives of others by connecting to and helping community members. Students planned out opportunities to help out in their community, fostering an understanding of global issues and social injustice. Through this program, students learned about issues such as poverty, homelessness, and human rights infringements.
Chinook Gay Straight Alliance Documentary Project Chinook High School, Lethbridge
The Chinook GSA will film, produce and premiere a documentary which examines the struggles, triumphs and daily lives of LGBTQ+ youth in the unique context of Southern Alberta. The project will develop the students’ interview and curatorial skills and connect students in rural Alberta together by hosting screenings in several communities.