Grade 2 students at SouthPointe School students display the letters they sent to pen pals at St. Theresa School in Wabasca, Alta.

Grade 2 students at SouthPointe School students display the letters they sent to pen pals at St. Theresa School in Wabasca, Alta.

Carole Bossert, teacher at SouthPointe School, shares her journey as a knowledge seeker on the road to furthering Indigenous education and understanding at SouthPointe School and in her own life.

Journey Through the Years

I participated in my first Blanket Exercise at Grant MacEwan. In the morning, I was an active participant in the Blanket Exercise and in the afternoon, I took a course to be able to facilitate and lead a Blanket Exercise. This day was very meaningful to me as I was surrounded by caring Elders and Knowledge Keepers, people well on their journeys as well as people just like me who were just starting. I really didn’t understand what had happened in the past from my own education so the impact of this day was huge.

From there, my journey continued by taking an online course via the University of British Columbia on Truth and Reconciliation. It was very rewarding, motivating and educational, yet also very overwhelming and emotional. From here, I participated in many more Blanket Exercises at other schools within our Division as well as having many conversations with others. I began reading books detailing the history of residential schools, Indigenous ways of knowing, and truth and reconciliation practices.

Weaving Truth and Reconciliation into my classroom is very important to me. The work is not always easy, and I’ve had MANY questions along the way. However, when you can have a discussion with your students and when you can hear their comments, their concerns and their desire to make the future better than the past, it’s incredibly meaningful. Most importantly, being on this journey gives concrete ways we can make the world a better place and this work gives us HOPE today and for the future.

Having students be active in this journey of Truth and Reconciliation is imperative. I’m very thankful for all of the support I’ve received from the Division to continue on this journey by being able to ask questions and being encouraged by the work being done in my classroom. I’m also very thankful for the relationships built with our friends from St. Theresa School in Wabasca, and I’m hopeful we can continue walking together for years to come.

Partnership with St. Theresa School, Wabasca

Grade 1 Pen Pal program - 2018-19
In 2018, I was very fortunate to be able to connect with Ms. Dawn Gambler and her class from St. Theresa School in Wabasca, Alberta. Together, our classes had the opportunity to share, grow and learn about each other. One of the things we did was make paper moccasins together over Zoom. Kohkum Virginia led us in creating beautiful paper moccasins. We also sent plastic sheep from Fort Saskatchewan—we're known for our sheep—and they reciprocated by sending us plastic moose. The letters were meaningful and the excitement in both of our classrooms when letters arrived was priceless!

Pen Pal letters with Wabasca - 2021-22
This year, we were very fortunate to have another pen pal partnership with St. Theresa School in Wabasca. However, this time we have more classrooms participating in the program from both schools. At SouthPointe School, we have 11 elementary classrooms participating with the whole school at St. Theresas. So far, we’ve shared our stories, our cultures, what we wanted for Christmas, as well as being included in their Outdoor Learning day as they shared photos and videos with us. We’re also very excited to have Kohkum Virginia joining us via Zoom to show us how to use fish scales to do art in April.

Outdoor Learning Day
We had the opportunity to see photos and videos of our pen pals enjoying a day of outdoor learning activities. They cleaned and ate fresh fish, dried moose meat over an open fire, cooked bannock on large sticks over the fire and showed us how to get the feathers off of a duck by singeing them so they could enjoy eating duck as well. They also shared stories and showed us through photos how to play ‘double ball.’

Double Ball
Our pen pals from St. Theresa School in Wabasca shared their traditional Double Ball game with us! To play this game, each player has a hand-carved stick and there’s one ‘double ball’ used to score points. This game involves running, catching, throwing and working together as a team to score points. There was lots of laughter in Fort Saskatchewan as we played this game together. Sometimes we caught the double ball, but often we missed it as it sailed over our heads! We can’t wait to go outside to play it again!!

Ring the Stick
We had a lot of fun playing Ring the Stick which is another traditional game our friends from Wabasca graciously shared with us. This game is tricky to play, but with a lot of patience and determination, you can get the ring on the stick! What a FUN game!

Kohkum Virginia, Wabasca

Since our relationship started in 2018, Kohkum Virginia has been very gracious in sharing her knowledge with us. On a recent trip to Wabasca, I was able to personally thank her and offer protocol to her from SouthPointe School and Elk Island Public Schools.

Jason Carter Inspired Art - Grade 5

Jason Carter is a Cree Canadian artist. His work is inspiring and something we loved creating. Some of us even have his art in our homes or have seen it at the airport! Student were very excited to hear from Jason Carter after sharing about our project on Twitter. 

When I Was Eight

This project was something Sara Secrist, an EIPS teacher at Bruderheim School, told me about, and I absolutely love it! I’ve done it every year at SouthPointe. This year, I was able to do it as a repeat project with some previous Grade 1s I taught at SouthPointe School a few years ago. Every time I’ve done this story, my students have illustrated exactly what needed to be illustrated. The discussions that are generated are always very meaningful, thought provoking and life changing. Doing this project also provides an opportunity to discuss how we can do better and what we can do to move forward as a group and individually. When we’re done illustrating the book, I laminate it, hang it on the wall and then bind it for future reference for all to read and reflect upon.

Seven Grandfather Teachings

At SouthPointe School, we strive to do our very best in all things. We use the Seven Grandfather Teachings, shared with us from Elder Wilson, to help guide us to be exceptional people. The Turtle brings us the teaching of Truth. Our Grade 5 class mission statement is:

“In 5B we will strive to lead others by exemplifying the Seven Grandfather Teachings in everything that we say and do. When we lead with TRUTH, we show others that we are Loving, Respectful, Courageous, Honest, Wise and Humble.”

Often, we talk about the BEAR and how the Bear brings us the teaching of Courage. We all had stories to share of when we had to be courageous, and we were thankful for having this teaching to reflect upon. Sitting in a circle to share our stories of courage and then writing about them was a great way to understand this teaching.

Ethan Bear - an NHL Inspiration

Ethan Bear is an Edmonton Oilers hockey player who received racist comments after the team lost its series to the Winnipeg Jets. He wanted people to know:

"I'm proud of where I come from. I'm proud to be from Ochapowace First Nation. And I'm not just doing this for myself—I'm doing this for all people of colour. I'm doing this for the next generation, to help make change, to love one another, to support one another, to be kind to each other. There's no place for racism in our communities, in sports, or in our workplace. So I call on all of us to help make change, and to end racism. We all deserve to be treated fairly. At the end of the day, I think we'll get there."

We wanted Ethan Bear to know we supported him (and others) and to do this, we put his jersey on all of our lockers in Grade 5.

Learning about Residential Schools

In 5B, we took some time to talk about residential schools with our table groups by sharing our background knowledge with our classmates. After these discussions, I read the forward information from author Nicola Cambell, from Shin-chi’s Canoe. While I was reading, each student jotted down facts about residential schools that were new to them. Individually, they chose one fact that stood out to them and we put them up on a poster. We then read Shin-chi’s Canoe and had an excellent discussion around residential schools together. Some new learnings were:

  • The last residential school closed in 1996
  • Some students had positive experiences
  • Students were given European names
  • There were 130 residential schools in Canada
  • Sometimes they were not allowed to return home for many years and some never returned home
  • The children lost their ties to families, cultures and traditions

Outdoor Learning Space

Our outdoor classroom at SouthPointe School provides many opportunities for learning, but during this time, it was a place of solitude and quiet reflection. Last year, we took the time to read the story, Stolen Words, and to discuss and reflect on the past. Through this discussion, we were able to really think and feel deep emotions about our past and to share ideas and ways to act on how we can do better right now, and in the future.


On May 27, 2021, the former Kamloops Indian Residential School uncovered the remains of 215 children buried at the site. As a Grade 5 class, we were shocked and saddened and wanted to do something to show our love and support. We also wanted others to know there’s HOPE for our futures. Together, when we speak truth for our past and when we seek to reconcile with each other, our future is brighter.