A multicultural art project done through the lens of the school's values, along with citizenship work led by the school's teacher-librarian and classroom teachers, earned Chief Whitecap School recognition during the City of Saskatoon's Living in Harmony Recognition Awards.
The annual awards, recognize local organizations or individuals for their efforts in promoting intercultural harmony, were presented during a celebration held March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Chief Whitecap's art project celebrated cultural diversity while honoring key values of the Dakota people, and served to build relationships with students from Charles Red Hawk Elementary School located on the Whitecap Dakota First Nation. As part of the unique partnership between the schools, students from the Pre-k to Grade 4 Charles Red Hawk School transition to Chief Whitecap beginning in Grade 5.
"Our aim is to build sense of belonging and community purpose through art, and through opportunities to share stories of cultural differences and similarities as we learn more about our four Dakota school values," said vice principal Chantelle Bilicki.
"After cultural teachings from our resident Elder, and opportunities for students to bring their own stories forward from their own cultural backgrounds, we created painted canvas tapestries to visually represent our four school values of Wisdom, Humility, Courage and Generosity. These tapestries will be hung as a large presentation and focal point for our school, and in the future, as a focal point for our community."
Funding from the Saskatchewan Arts Board, City of Saskatoon, and Whitecap Dakota First Nation allowed the school to work with artist Muveddet Al-Katib.
As part of the school's citizenship education, students in Grade 4 and Grade 5 learned about being good citizens and explored the Essential Citizenship Competencies (ECC) help to examine an issue and the history, beliefs and biases that often surround topics and current events. Through activities rooted in stories and books, students explored specific skills and dispositions related to each competency.
Grade 5 students explored bias and how it can impact the view and perception of groups of people. Students in Grade 4 looked at power structure and authority in society and examined racism and injustice through the lens of the book "Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged." A group of Grade 4 students wrote and performed their own play about bullying and connected it to the citizenship competencies.
While racism was not the central focus of the learning, the framework created a safe space for students to explore how racism is present in society and to discuss how they can take action to change their thinking and address root causes.