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New curriculum teaching Manitoba students through experiences of residential school survivor

A new curriculum on residential schools and Indigenous history is available to teachers throughout the province, and is educating students through the first-hand experiences of a residential school survivor.

Elder Mary Courchene was born on Sagkeeng First Nation.

She spent 10 years, from ages five to 15, attending the Fort Alexander Residential School.

"I had lost my childhood, I had lost so many teachings that my dad used to teach me as an Indigenous person,” she said.

Now, Courchene’s stories are the foundation for ‘Resistance on the Giimooch’ -- a new curriculum available to teachers throughout the province.

"This curriculum will help transform perspectives, build allies, and lead a healing movement,” said her granddaughter Dawn Isaac.

Giimooch is an Anishinaabemowin word meaning “in secret.”

It's a nod to Indigenous children holding on to their culture despite the residential school system.

"These poignant lessons of resilience were written with the dignity, honesty, and so much love they deserve,” said Courchene’s granddaughter Alyssa Denysuik.

Sixteen lessons teach Grade 6 to 12 students about Courchene's life, while exploring topics like Indigenous history and identity.

"The truth about residential schools must continue to be told and Manitoba teachers will continue to tell it. There is no place in reconciliation for myths or misinformation,” said Nathan Martindale, president of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society.

The lessons were put together by Courchene and her family, Indigenous knowledge keepers, and teachers from the Seven Oaks School Division.

"Having kids and I’d say educators as well taking Mary’s stories and then saying, ‘Where does this resonate for me? What can I attach to this learning?’” said teacher Amy Carpenter.

It's a history lesson rooted in reconciliation for students and teachers alike.

"For the next generation, I believe that we no longer have to be on the giimooch when it comes to learning our language and celebrating who we are,” said Courchene’s granddaughter Jaimee Isaac.

Resistance on the Giimooch is a collaboration between the Seven Oaks School Division and the Manitoba Teachers’ Society.

It's available online for anyone to read, watch, and listen. Top Stories

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