The Grade 7/8 class at Lillian Berg School has been recognized by the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada.
They have been granted the Spirit Bear Award for their work in demonstrating reconciliation in action to ensure First Nations, Métis, and Inuit young people have the same opportunities as all other children. They are one in four groups across Canada to receive the award.
"I think it's important for them to realize the importance of the work they've done. I'm so proud. So proud for them to be recognized for all of the hard work that they did and know that they're making a difference, they're making change in their community," says teacher Shannon Elliott.
As part of their teachings about the history of residential schools, the class had gone to the McIntosh IRS Memorial Site and noticed that up-keep was needed at the site.
"The students asked me, 'what can we do to show the site the respect it deserves?'," she added.
With the help of a grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage, the class was able to have the Municipality of Machin Public Works beautify the area.
Their 30km Walk for Wenjack, a walk to educate students and raise awareness of the true history and impact of the residential school system, and their numerous actions to stand-up and support First Nations youth and their communities was another factor in the class winning the award.
"The students came up with the idea to do the Downie Walk for Wenjack. It's a 30 kilometre walk from the school to the site, so it was a huge undertaking, and they were so determined. Took us about eight hours that day. Every single one of them finished the walk and it was great to see all the support from the community," Elliott added.
"The award means a lot of our class because we've worked so hard to push for reconciliation and to teach and show people why it's important. It's amazing feeling to know we won out of so many other schools in Canada," says student Kaylan Campbell.
Along with the Spirit Bear Award, the class was given $500.00, which they have decided to donate half to future grounds up-keep at McIntosh IRS Memorial Site with the other half going towards something fun for the students at LBS.
If you would like to contribute to the class’ McIntosh IRS Memorial Site Up-keep Fund you can contact the school at 227-2152 or Shannon at email@example.com