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Feather Carvings for Reconciliation – Every Child Matters

Curriculum & Learning, General News, District News
Will Henderson Jr. and the uniquely carved Feathers for Reconciliation.

A partnership between Indigenous Education and Kwa’kwa’ka’wakw carver William Henderson Jr. has provided each school with a symbol to remind us of our shared histories, our connection to those histories and a reminder of our shared responsibilities in providing meaningful and respectful learning environments for each child and youth.  

Henderson carved, stained, and painted 19 beautiful Feathers for Reconciliation. Each feather is unique in their design representing the uniqueness of children; each one is different, each one is special and each one is beautiful in their own way, just like children.  The carved feathers represent a safe and respectful place for all children, youth, families, and staff, one filled with inspiration, hope and possibilities. 

Henderson chose the feather as feathers hold a significant connection to honour, wisdom, trust, strength, freedom, and truth. 

“The idea of a feather represents the knowledge and wisdom that is needed to create space for learning about the residential schools, the legacy it has left behind for Indigenous peoples…. It also is a commitment to care for each child, honouring their personal story, their family history, their cultures, and their vision and hope for a bright future,” said Henderson.

Henderson also intentionally used the colour orange to honour the survivors of the residential school systems and to remember those young children who did not return home.  Each feather also has symbols that connect to traditional Kwa’kwa’ka’wakw designs, a reminder culture is a part of the families to be honoured and handprints from Henderson’s children making a very personal connection between the art, the history, and his family.

“I was honoured to be asked to do these carvings and to have my own children as a part of it, to teach them about carving, about the project, to share their history and support their learning. (With) each piece I made, I thought of my own family who went to the schools, and that I was doing this for them, it was a powerful and meaningful experience. This gives me hope”

Feathers for Reconciliation is just one of the many SD72 initiatives to demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that all our staff and students understand the history of the residential school system, the intergenerational impacts the schools had, and that current realities for Indigenous peoples are taught, understood, and we continue in dialogue on our path for truth and reconciliation. It is only together that we can create a better future for all children. 

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