School Spotlight

Sophiasburgh students to participate in Downie-Wenjack Legacy Room opening

June 9, 2017—Students at Sophiasburgh Central School are excited to be part of the launch and dedication of the first Downie-Wenjack Legacy Room in Canada. It will be located in Books & Company’s café, Miss Lily’s, in Picton.


DATE: Tuesday, June 13, 2017
TIME: 7:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Upstairs, Books & Company, 289 Main Street, Picton

In May, Sophiasburgh students participated in a transformative arts-education project to write and record songs in response to Canada’s colonial history. Students took part in The Four Directions Project, led by local not-for-profit Darkspark, an arts education organization that uses songwriting, recording and pop culture as engagement tools in schools across Canada. The Four Directions Project was conceptualized in collaboration with a Grade 8 class from the Quinte Mohawk School in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. Participating youth discover how colonial prejudices and stereotypes are created and maintained – and may be broken. It also encourages youth to believe their voices can create change in their communities and world. It appears their work may have done just that by inspiring the creation of the first permanent Downie-Wenjack Legacy Room.

Summary of the student involvement from Rob McFadden, Principal

Our students in Mr. O’Brien’s Grade 7/8 class have recently been involved in an unique experiential learning opportunity. They have engaged in considering Canadian colonial history from an Indigenous perspective, including exploring the impacts of residential schools on indigenous peoples. We have done this work with a non-profit community partner, Darkspark, through the support of a Ministry of Education Community-Connected Experiential Learning grant, and a Prince Edward County Community Foundation Canada 150 Grant, the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board and school funds.

Darkspark is a transformative, experiential arts education organization that uses songwriting, storytelling, and recording technologies to engage, educate and inspire youth in schools across Canada. One of Darkspark’s main goals is to contribute to the process of recovery and reconciliation by facilitating cross-cultural education between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples.

The project included two full days of immersive, creative ice-breakers, curriculum-based lesson plans, discussions and interaction with an Indigenous elder and artists in addition to interactive, multi-media rich presentations on the history of songwriting as a medium to create impact and change in local, national and global communities. Following this for five days, students were broken into groups of seven, and each group had the opportunity to write a song of their own, reflecting on the powerful information they have learned alongside professional songwriters, musicians and producers. After writing their song, each group took part in recording their song in a professional mobile studio.

Students’ songs are now being mixed and produced and we are ready to engage in Phase II of our project that includes outreach to our community to share our learning through presentation of the students’ work. Mr. O’Brien, Darkspark members D’Ari and Mel, and students have been working on this presentation, which will be shared with students from other Prince Edward County schools at 10:00 a.m. on June 13 at Sophiasburgh Central School, and then again with our broader community on the evening of June 13 at 7:00 in the Lipson Room at Books & Company, 289 Main Street, Picton. Parents and community members are welcome to join us for these events. Students are working with Mr. O’Brien to divide up responsibilities for presenting at either one of these two events or during a school-based assembly where we will present to our own students.

For more information, please contact:
Kerry Donnell, Communications Officer,
613-966-1170 or 1.800.267-4350, extension 2354

Last updated: March 6, 2018 at 9:29 am
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