By Lisa Dalla Vecchia, Communications Manager
Project of Heart is an inquiry-based, hands-on, collaborative, intergenerational, artistic journey of seeking truth about the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada. [source]
Teacher Sarah Mazzei was keen to launch Project of Heart with students and staff at Ridgeway on September 30, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. “A lot more people know the truth now, but this is going beyond education about residential schools and their legacy,” explained Sarah. “This is about taking physical action and doing something concrete that will provide others an opportunity to continue talking about the true history of Canada.”
Sarah and Education Assistant Gail Baker, together with the administration team of Jillian Gordon and Dean Yeo, shared the idea with the Ridgeway Indigenous Education team who were enthusiastic to make it happen. “Sarah brought the project to life,“ said Gail. “We really liked the idea, but Sarah spearheaded the entire project.”
Every student at Ridgeway learned about residential schools and their legacy on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. After a grade-appropriate classroom discussion, each student was given a wooden tile to work on (tiles can be purchased from the Project of Heart website).
Each student contributed a finished tile, whether it was a student in kindergarten colouring a tile orange or a student in Grade 6 or 7 focusing on an image or a word that symbolized reconciliation for them. “It was like taking all our hopes for reconciliation and bringing them together into one piece of art, a conversation starter,” Sarah shared.
Once all the tiles were completed, Teacher Janae Chiu made the circular wood frame and thoughtfully placed all the tiles along the frame, bringing the project to life.
Carpenter Ross Davidson then made the frame that would support the art and plexiglass cover and allow it to be hung in a prominent place in the school.
“Each year, we want to push forward and do a little more for reconciliation,“ shared Sarah. “Stay tuned for next year!”
This project was made possible through the support of the Ridgeway Indigenous Education Committee: Jillian Gordon, Martine Stanley, Tracey Vennels, Kelsey Syme, Megan McKay, Heather Gallilee, Leah Symons, Susana Cheng, Adrienne Tsnois, Ashley Jones, Gail Baker and Sarah Mazzei.