This week, Grade 3/4 students at Eric Langton Elementary made handcrafted felt poppies as they learned about the role of Aboriginal soldiers in the First and Second World Wars.
Katrina Haintz, an Aboriginal support worker with the Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows School District, led the interactive lesson.
“The activity I did with the class focused on learning who the First Peoples are and their connections to the wars,” she says. “I felt it was so important to talk to kids about who the First Peoples are to understand how the war affected our people and the land.”
It was a history lesson about the wars told from the viewpoint of the First Peoples, she explains.
Students learned about Aboriginal veterans, their contributions to the war, how they were treated and their connection to the land.
Haintz also discussed the vital role played by “code talkers” – a group of Canadian Aboriginal soldiers who used the Cree language to help secretly communicate sensitive military intel during the Second World War.
“Students were very engaged with this project,” said teacher Stephanie Schroeder.
“In particular, they really enjoyed learning about the code talkers. This was something they could relate to and understand: the idea of speaking in another language or code has real-world meaning to students at this age. By the next day, I already had three emails from parents commenting on how excited their child was to tell them about code talkers.”