Reconciliation through student-led school leadership at SNHS
Tim Brody - Editor
“We have helped each other heal by coming together and remembering all that has happened. I think that by coming together we can overcome anything,” said Sioux North High School (SNHS) Grade 11 student Mackenzie Shakakeesic of the way her school came together this fall, participating in reconciliation events organized by the school’s Grade 11 Leadership and Peer Support Class.
Shakakeesic, a member of that class, along with her teacher Colby Sadler, made an online presentation to the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board at their Dec. 14 board meeting titled, Reconciliation through Student-Led School Leadership.
This fall, a school-wide contest was held to design a logo to be placed on orange t-shirts. The whole school, by cohort, also participated in a Downie Wenjack Walk, raising over $500 in student donations for the Downie Wenjack Fund. The class also organized for Harriet Visitor, Chanie Wenjack’s niece, to be able to speak to a class at the school.
“I think that by talking about reconciliation and doing things that help us heal and overcome what happened in the past, I think that by doing the Downie Wenjack Walk and making an orange t-shirt logo contest it has brought awareness that all children matter,” said Shakakeesic, a member of Cat Lake First Nation.
“The fact that a lot of the students choose to do activities that are related to that (reconciliation), I think it was very much a high interest issue for a lot of the students,” Sadler shared.
“Mackenzie and Michaela (Peters, a Grade 12 student in the class who is also from Cat Lake First Nation)…were really instrumental in the Orange Shirt Day stuff and getting a logo designed by one of the students in the school,” Sadler explained, adding, “They ran a logo contest and were hoping to get that on a t-shirt, but they were all out of orange shirts this year, so hoping to do that next year.”
The winner of the logo contest was Grade 12 student Liya Beardy of Muskrat Dam.
Shakakeesic added, “I think it was pretty challenging for both of us. Having the outcome of not being able to put the logo on the t-shirts due to the shortage of t-shirts in Canada was pretty rough, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to continue this project next year so that Liya can have her logo around and we can raise more money for the Downie Wenjack Fund.”
Shakakeesic said she enjoyed seeing all the designs that were submitted.
“It made me feel good that the student winner of the logo got to be chosen. It made me feel happy for them. Just bringing awareness to the Downie Wenjack Fund, it brought joy to me, and I enjoyed working with Michaela.”
She said of having the whole school participate in a Downie Wenjack Walk, “It made us feel seen and heard about our activities we were planning.”
“I think that by doing some activities it helps kids with their mental health and it’s been kind of rough. Because of the COVID restrictions we couldn’t do many things with everyone together… it’s just good that our students got to do some activities with their peers. I think it was a good opportunity for me to plan stuff for the students,” she added.
Shakakeesic, the KPDSB Indigenous Student Trustee for the 2020-2021 school year, concluded, “One of my goals is I’m going to talk about residential schools and I’m going to make a video presentation. I’m going to go around asking elders about their experiences in residential schools and I will be recording some of our conversations and adding it to the video presentation.”