Sherwood Park, AB. — The Grade 3 class at Fort Saskatchewan Elementary was one of four classes chosen from across Canada to take part in a virtual Student Leadership Panel on the rights of children, and how Canada is failing many children in Indigenous communities. Students gave a live presentation showcasing their knowledge and calling viewers to take action against injustice.
Fort Saskatchewan Elementary, like all schools within Elk Island Public Schools, is committed to learning about our ongoing treaty relationships. So, when Roots of Resilience, an organization devoted to decolonization efforts in Canada, invited the class to take part in the discussion, it seemed like the perfect match. The organizers asked participating classes to plan a panel discussion on how to achieve equity and justice for First Nations, Métis and Inuit children, and each class was given a month to prepare.
While only four students from the class could appear on the panel itself, all 23 students got involved in preparations, from conducting research to assembling committees to creating slideshows and displays. The class chose to present their argument through the experiences of three Indigenous children who faced injustice and inequality in their home communities: Autumn Peltier, who advocates for access to clean drinking water in Indigenous communities; Shannen Koostachin, who fought for the right to safe schools; and Jordan River Anderson, a young boy who was denied medical access due to a question of which level of government was responsible for funding his care.
“It's so important to learn about these stories because the injustice needs to stop,” says Felicity, a Grade 3 student who took part in the panel discussion. “Everyone needs to learn about Shannen, Jordan and Autumn so they can learn the truth about what’s happening in Canada. We learned about the teachings of courage and truth and we know that it takes courage to tell the truth.”
The Grade 3 class wants the stories and messages of these three children to become universally known in Canada to prevent similar injustices from happening in the future. To help amplify voices across the country, they created the hashtag #SayTheirNamesShareTheirStories.
“It constantly amazes me to see how smart and empathetic children are,” says Kristy Germaine, the Grade 3 teacher at Fort Saskatchewan Elementary. “Even eight- and nine-year-olds have the capacity to learn about these tragic stories and share them with those who need to hear.”
The panel was shared with schools across the country, so students from all over Canada could access the teachings being shared by Fort Saskatchewan Elementary students. And now that it’s over, the Grade 3 students are calling upon children and adults all over the country to share the stories of Peltier, Koostachin and Anderson.
Fort Saskatchewan Elementary serves approximately 350 students in kindergarten to Grade 6 and is one of 43 schools within Elk Island Public Schools. More information about the school is available at www.fortelem.ca.
Photo: Fort Saskatchewan Elementary Grade 3 panelists Owen Weigel, Matthew Pluta and April Savoy. Missing is Felicity Laycraft.
For more information contact:
Laura McNabb, director, Communication Services, EIPS 780-417-8204 cell 780-405-4902