Activity 1



For Project of Heart, students will create a mural (either as individuals or a class) to communicate their perspectives of the Indian residential school system in Canada. The objective of this activity is to discover the disconnect between dominant discourse and the personal experiences of residential school survivors. After seeing the presentation of Qwalena and watching the documentary ‘Our Story’, students will have witnessed some new narratives about residential school experience and its consequences for survivors including the inter-generational impact. The mural will allow students to use artistic expressions to illustrate their own unique interpretation of this new narrative. Students should be encouraged to explore a variety of perspectives, both negative and positive, surrounding this topic.

See “PROJECT OF HEART” for examples.

Materials needed

Projector, internet, and laptop/computer. Art aspect needs pencil crayons, crayons, pastels, paints, charcoal etc.

First Task

Attend the performance of “Qwalena: The Wild Woman Who Steals Children” by 3 Crows Productions.

Second Task 

Watch the documentary “Our Story”, filmed and produced by 3 Crows Productions.

“Our Story” is a documentary that follows Katzie First Nation Elder, Cyril Pierre, who returns to the site of Saint Mary’s Indian residential school in Mission, BC, where he attended from 1955 to 1967. Cyril is joined on this journey by fellow classmate and lifelong friend Joseph Ginger, of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation. Both men share their graphic testimonials of the residential school experience at Saint Mary’s. Continuing his journey of healing on camera Cyril sings a powerful spirit song of cleansing and healing offering strength and renewed vision. This video will provide students with firsthand insights into the personal lives of two outspoken Elders and their struggles as residential school survivors.

 View 3 Crows Productions documentary "Our Story"
 “Our Story: A healing journey”

NOTE: Both these Elders have been featured on the CBC Evening News. For more information on Cyril, Joe, and the presentation “Our Story” please visit our website:

Third Task

Reflect and discuss:

Why is it important that we do not simply accept the dominant story about Indian residential schools commonly told?

Why is it critical that we hear first-hand narratives told by residential school survivors?

Remind students to be mindful of all experiences both positive and negative. While for many students residential schools were traumatic, not all suffered the same degree of abuse, some in fact had positive experiences. 

Fourth Task

Draw mural pieces reflecting each student’s artistic narrative.

Each student will create mural pieces reflecting their own perspective on the new narrative. These pieces can be put into a group collage together with the pieces by other students or presented separately by each individual student.

Educator outcomes

Comparing the Qwalena presentation and the documentary Our Story, students will be able to identify the main themes in these narratives and explore the common story they tell. Relating themes of trauma to their own personal story is key and it is important that the mural reflect these.