Belle Anse Harvest Meal and Library Opening

On October 2, students, teachers, grandparents and community members of Belle Anse gathered in the basement cafeteria to cut vegetables grown in their own school garden and prepare a delicious stew.

Supervised by mothers and grandmothers, the whole school was thrown into action, peeling, chopping veggies and rolling meatballs.  What a sight!

While the stew was cooking, everyone went upstairs where different aged children gathered in small groups with a grandparent or community member to read a book from their reading level while teachers circulated.  It was really wonderful having adults and family members witness the wonderful work of the school.

Next on the agenda was the ceremonial opening of the new (when I say new, I mean the space was previously a storage room) school library.  The space was bright, freshly painted and filled with new books grouped by reading level.  The renovations were made possible by the hard work of staff and students, making the case that Belle Anse Elementary deserved an award from the Indigo – Love of Reading Foundation .

The ceremony included a ribbon cutting and a listen to a recording of a phone call where the principal Beryl Boyle was informed they had won a good sum of money to put their dreams into action.  You can hear the reaction by clicking here and looking for Belle Anse School. Listening can’t help but bring a smile to your face.

After the presentation, the students went outside for recess to work up an appetite.  When the time came, everyone gathered in the cafeteria.  A few words were said about everyone’s collective effort, from growing the potatoes to peeling them and then came delicious hot stew.  Yum!

I have to thank the teachers of Belle Anse Elementary and especially Principal Beryl Boyle.  I’ll proudly call her a principal leader, creating the conditions for a great school, sometimes behind a desk and sometimes by showing kids how to make a stew.  Thanks everyone!

Service Learning at Gaspé Elementary

What a trip to Gaspé! I won’t lie, one of the best parts of my job is the chance to visit schools across our CLC network.

Upon arriving at Gaspé elementary, I met Jan and Pam Patterson (no relation) in the staff room along with many new and familiar faces. I heard about the great projects taking place and being planned.

The day before I arrived, students participated in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. I sat in on the grade 6 class and saw the graphs they created in math class showing the different types of garbage they had cleared.

Once they analyze the graphs with the grade 5 class, the moment will be ripe to develop solutions that address the problem of domestic and fishing industry waste washingup on the local beaches.  That is service learning.

In the elementary cycle 3 ERC class, the students read the book Beatrice’s Goat. Afterwards, students discussed the meaning of the book and were inspired by the story of how a donation of a goat to a family can have a positive, long term economic benefit for children, including increased access to education.  Next steps for the ERC class included researching charities like Heifer International to choose the best organization to receive a donation.

I have a suspicion the ease with which the children were moved to action is due to a project from last year, where a former student teacher connected students with a class in Malawi. A relationship was forged between the two classes, through an exchange of letters and a skype call.  Gaspe students raised money for books, collecting enough in fact to build a physical library.  That seems like a whole story in itself.  Any reporters or authors out there?

I really could go on…and I will.  A few days later I visited Belle Anse Elementary and had another extraordinary visit.  Click here to hear (homonym) the story of the harvest meal and official opening of the school library, thanks to the Indigo-Love of Reading Foundation.

CLCs and Aboriginal Reconciliation

Last year a quarter of Community Learning Centres researched and implemented Community-Based Service Learning projects contributing to Aboriginal Reconciliation.

The annual Tell Them From Me  survey alerted the network that 12% of students in CLCs self-identified as Aboriginal.  One quarter of CLCs felt it was important to support the success of all aboriginal and non-aboriginal students by ensuring conditions existed for a sense of belonging and strong attachment to the school through the integration of aboriginal history in the curriculum and reconciliation around the residential school experience.

Students and teachers participated in the national  Project of Hope initiative and students exhibited active citizenship through the promotion of Shannon’s Dream.  In many cases,  partnerships were developed  with local Aboriginal partners.

Below is a collection of resources appropriate for students to learn about the residential school experience and partner with local Aboriginal communities to include all histories in school and take the opportunity to be active citizens.  Click here to download the activity sheet of Aboriginal reconciliation projects.  Click here to access a timeline to help with planning.

Project of Heart

Resources in English and French

Target Audience: Everyone…Students, Teachers, Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Community Members

Project of Heart” is an inquiry based, hands-on, collaborative, inter-generational, artistic journey of seeking truth about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada. Its purpose is to:

  • Examine the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada and to seek the truth about that history, leading to the acknowledgement of the extent of loss to former students, their families and communities
  • Commemorate the lives of the thousands of Indigenous children who died as a result of the residential school experience.
  • Call Canadians to action, through social justice endeavors, to change our present and future history collectively.

Legacy of Hope – 100 Years of Loss

Resources in English and French

Target Audience:  Youth ages 11-18

The Legacy of Hope Foundation developed two new educational products targeted to Canadian youth aged 11-18. Both products were designed to support educators and administrators in raising awareness and teaching about the history and legacy of residential schools.

The Blanket Exercise

Target Audience: Grades 4-8 and Grades 9-12/Adult

A teaching tool by KAIROS to raise awareness and understanding of the nation to nation relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.  The Blanket Exercise is an interactive way of learning the history most Canadians are never taught.

Two scripts are included: one for youth and adults, the other for children and younger teens. The exercise uses blankets to represent the lands of what is now called Canada, and the distinct cultures and nations which live on those lands to this day. Participants represent the First Peoples; when they move onto the blankets, they are taken back in time to the arrival of the Europeans. The Narrator and a European (or two) work with the participants to read a script while the exercise goes through the history of treaty-making, colonization and resistance that resulted in the nation we today call Canada.  Lisa Howell, a teacher at Pierre Elliott Trudeau CLC has adapted the script of The Blanket Exercise.

 First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada-Shannen’s Dream

Resources in English and French

Target Audience: All Ages

Shannen Koostachin, youth education advocate from the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario, had a dream: safe and comfy schools and culturally based education for First Nations children and youth. Shannen worked tirelessly to try to convince the Federal government to give First Nations children a proper education before tragically passing away at the age of 15 years old in 2010. Named in her memory, the campaign engages Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples to better understand the education inequities and to take action to ensure all First Nations children and young people attend good schools and receive a proper education that prepares them to achieve their dreams and be proud of their distinct cultures and languages.

The FN Caring Society offers resources to engage youth with the opportunity to raise awareness among their peers about the inequities faced by First Nations children and youth. It also promotes ways that children, youth, and communities can collaborate, think creatively about the future, and inspire hope for others in making a difference. In supporting child and youth engagement, communities and organizations support tomorrow’s future leaders!

 Protecting our Sacred Water


Learning for a Sustainable Future, the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, and a group of First Nation and Métis Elders and educators, the LSF has created a guide called “Protecting our Sacred Water.”

Protecting our Sacred Water helps educators and youth program facilitators bring education for sustainable development to their students/youth in a transformative way through action projects. The guide provides tools for teachers to help youth choose a project topic and how to carry it out through the integration of FNMI ways of knowing. It is important that Aboriginal youth; Canada’s fastest growing and most marginalized population, see themselves as leaders in creating change. When youth are meaningfully engaged throughout the entire process, they are more likely to make positive changes for themselves and their community.

Action Project Funding is available to assist youth-led action that include activities from the guide.



CLC Teacher Newsletter

When I was a kid, different platforms meant going to the university pool and jumping feet first off the 2 meter and later the 5 meter diving board.

For better or worse, it’s not 1986 anymore. Now different platforms refers to this blog, my twitter account @cbslquebec or a newsletter for teachers highlighting Community Based Learning and Service Learning resources and opportunities.

Click here to see the first edition.

If you would like to subscribe to the CLC Teacher Newsletter click here.

Building School-Community Partnerships

The start of another school year brings me the opportunity to visit CLCs and speak to the whole staff.  Typically I show a powerpoint with pictures of books written and produced by students about their community or pictures of students releasing trout into a local river they raised from eggs.

I talk about how teachers who lead Community Based Service Learning (CBSL) projects are reporting increased engagement in  students,  contributing to student success.  I talk about the injection of vitality in communities where you have youth providing service to meet authentic needs.

We’re starting to see that projects which have  the greatest success are when the teacher collaborates with the CLC coordinator in finding the right community partner to facilitate students service to the community or community based learning. A great booklet was produced by the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN), pulling together lessons from a series of school-community focus groups.  Key findings include:

  • Partners and teachers should talk to each other before the project idea is fully developed to agree on common goals and design opportunities for links to the curriculum
  • Apply for funding together
  • Establish clear roles and responsibilities

I recommend visiting QAHN’s website to purchase the guide.  I worked out a deal with QAHN to provide a PDF version for interested teachers.  Please email Ben if you would like a copy.