Holy Cross Reconciliation Rock Garden

On June 18 students, staff invited guests and elders gathered at Holy Cross Elementary school for an Elder Reconciliation Ceremony.

Lakeland Catholic is committed to honouring all calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission related to schools.

In June 2008, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established as one of the mandated aspects of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

Four years ago, the commission released 94 calls to action and the final report was released in December 2015.

Holy Cross Elementary took on a project to continue to move forward on Call To Action #63 which states:

  • We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues, including:
  • Developing and implementing Kindergarten to Grade Twelve curriculum and learning resources on Aboriginal peoples in Canadian history, and the history and legacy of residential schools.

The idea of a reconciliation rock garden evolved one year ago as the school embarked on education planning for this year.

In order to move forward as a school towards reconciliation, there were two things that were essential. The first being that the students needed to know the reasons why we need to reconcile and the second is that they had to be involved in a concrete action of reconciliation.

Integration of Indigenous content happens through programs of study in all of our classrooms.

This year, students focused on a historical framework of the land now called Canada. Key aspects of the history of this land were introduced to students with the idea that they will learn about each aspect in more depth as they journey through grades K-12 at Lakeland Catholic.

After the students understood the framework of our history, they were challenged to create a rock with an image or message of moving forward and building relationships, a message of reconciliation. Staff and students accepted the challenge and the result is a beautiful rock garden. The garden was 100% funded by the students. During the month of March, students raised just over $2000.00 to buy the tree and paint for the garden. The rock garden is divided into eight sections. Each grade was given a section of the garden that was connected to a traditional Grandfather teaching. The eighth section belongs to the staff that serves the students of Holy Cross Elementary and their commitment to the Catholic faith.

One student from each class faced the elders and shared something they have learned about the history of Canada and the need for reconciliation. Agnes Gendron, Director of the Cold Lake Native Friendship Centre and Mary Anne Penner, Board Chair for Lakeland Catholic responded to the students and congratulated them on their efforts and commitment to moving forward. Local elder John Janvier was presented a blanket from students for translating the teachings in the rock garden into Dënesųłiné. Father Nong then blessed the rock garden.

Reconciliation is not achieved by building a rock garden, rather, the rock garden is to serve as a reminder to everyone who sees it that reconciliation will take place in our one-to-one interactions with each other. We must build relationships with each other and work together with respect if we want to move forward.