PVNC INSPIRES: Immaculate Conception CES hosts Mohawk artist/musician Tom Wilson for conversation on Truth and Reconciliation

Tom Wilson Visit Immaculate Conception CES

Dec. 14, 2022

Event part of artist ambassador program through Sony Music and the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund

Students at Immaculate Conception Catholic Elementary School who have been learning about Truth and Reconciliation had an opportunity to engage with Mohawk artist/musician Tom Wilson on Dec. 8, 2022, as part of a special artist ambassador program through Sony Music and the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund.

Wilson, an author, artist and musician best known as a member of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, is an advocate for Indigenous rights and reconciliation. Wilson shared his personal story of being adopted out of his Indigenous community during the 60s scoop, a period in Canadian history that saw a mass removal of Indigenous children from their families into the child welfare system. He sang and read excerpts from his book.

Immaculate Conception CES participates in the Downie Wenjack Legacy Schools Program, a free national initiative to engage, empower and connect students and educators to further reconciliation through awareness, education and action (#reconciliACTION).

Students in the Grade 5 class shared their learning with Wilson and the delegation, which also included students from Trent University’s School of Education Program and community members.

Classroom teacher Mitch Champagne said his students were proud to share their knowledge and they benefited from the interactive experience.

“Events like this one, where students, teachers, teacher candidates, and community members can learn from someone as engaging and commanding as Tom are so very important. These experiences stick with people. I hope everyone left this authentic learning experience inspired to learn more, and empowered to do more,” Champagne said.

Champagne noted there can be hesitancy by some teachers to delve too deeply into the issues of Truth and Reconciliation. Partnering with community leaders and tapping into resources such as the legacy school program can be beneficial to classroom teachers, he noted.

“Our current and future teachers need to build their knowledge base and grow in their confidence and ensure that this important work is taking place across Canada,” he said. “Teaching and learning about Indigenous and Canadian history and contemporary issues is a moral imperative.  Reconciliation is possible but first we need everyone to know the truth and that begins in classrooms like mine.”