Saskatoon students create starblanket for reconciliation, comfort
- Andrea Ledding | April 16, 2018
Students at Bishop Klein Elementary School in Saskatoon have created a painted starblanket as an act of reconciliation, and to comfort other children. Twelve classes from pre-kindergarten to grade 8 contributed stars for the wall-sized starblanket mural which will be installed in the Saskatoon Police Service’s Centre for Children’s Justice. Aboriginal Student Achievement Coordinator Jamie Arcand was inspired by her artistic colleague Jordan Raymond’s other stars, which he’d created at Bethlehem High School.
“I started thinking what can we do in Bishop Klein to teach kids about truth and reconciliation, and decided we’re going to build a blanket for them and for the Residential School survivors.”
Arcand got the canvases, traced out the stars, and went to each classroom to talk to the kids about the Residential Schools, truth and reconciliation, and the 94 calls to action. With the younger children, she read a children’s story about residential schools so that they could relate to the experience. Meanwhile, the Center for Children’s Justice had requested artwork, and when Sergeant Joanne Smallbones heard about the idea of the starblanket, she loved it. The design of the starblanket not only represents the support and comfort of community, but the eternal protection, support, love and comfort of the eye of Creator upon us.
Grade 8 student Neveah Bear, who spoke Cree at the official presentation at the school, explained that they were all thinking of the children when they created the piece.
“It was very humbling that we get to help the children feel safe and good,” said Bear. “We all made a piece of the blanket, and I just hope they feel safe when they see the starblanket we have given them.”
Arcand says the students independently completely organized the presentation to the Police at their school, which was observed by the Ministry’s Child’s Advocate Corey O’Soup as well.
“He said it was a wonderful idea and he really enjoyed the presentation. It was 100% our kids: they did the powerpoint, the speaking, the MC’ing, they sang the Treaty 6 anthem, they did the seven sacred teachings prayer...they deserve so much credit for what they did.”
Chief of Police Troy Cooper was there as well, commenting that they were honoured to have the students at Bishop Klein recognize the work done by the Children’s Justice Centre.
“They are now our partners in healing, and their contribution will help build a safe, healthy, and respectful community,” said Cooper.
Arcand shared that Sergeant Smallbones was so visibly touched throughout the program that she was moved to tears, and the partnership was a true success thanks to the effort of the students.
“It’s very important to teach our students about truth and reconciliation because they are such a big part of the healing process,” said Arcand. “These little guys are going to be the ones that make the difference.” She describes the mural as not only an act of remembrance, but an act of continuing to teach and heal from history, do the right thing, and give comfort.