FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 9, 2011
OTTAWA – Sylvia Smith, for her work as coordinator of Project of Heart, will be presented with a Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching on Monday.
Project of Heart is a hands-on, collaborative, inter-generational, inter-institutional artistic endeavour that commemorates the lives of the thousands of Indigenous children who died as a result of the Indian Residential School experience.
Participants have used the learning module to connect with a specific residential school history and the Indigenous people whose traditional territory the school was located on, and have shared the experience with an Aboriginal elder and/or residential school survivor. Follow-up research and social justice action is part of the process for each participant.
Smith founded Project of Heart in 2007 in collaboration with her students at Elizabeth Wyn Wood Alternate High School Program in Ottawa, and over 50 schools, faith communities, and workplaces across Canada have since taken part.
Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO) member Pei-Ju Wang states, “We are very pleased to see this award recognizing the work that Sylvia and others with Project of Heart have done to help non-Aboriginal Canadians acknowledge, and take ownership and action for, the devastating policy of residential schools that continues to have lasting effects on Indigenous peoples here. Her contributions to our group’s work have similarly been about moving people towards achieving justice, understanding and healing in the relationship between the Canadian state and the First Peoples of this land.”
Warren McBride, a fellow teacher at Elizabeth Wyn Wood, observes, “One of the main attributes of Project of Heart is that it provides an opportunity for students to apply their knowledge of the past to issues that are continuing today. Sylvia has been able to create an educational experience that has direct relevance to the news headlines of December 2011.”
Smith herself says, “Project of Heart is something that belongs to all who embrace it. Indeed, it is the collective aspect of the Project that gives it its strength. I am honoured to be the name attached to it.”
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