This year, the ELA department continued to focus on one of the four practices of the new ELA curriculum: Language as Power and Agency. The Manitoba English Language Arts Curriculum Framework defines this practice as the ability to “understand that all texts represent a particular way of thinking and that language can privilege some voices while silencing others. This understanding encourages [learners] to question, interrogate, and reimagine meaningful texts” (42).
Despite many obstacles along the way, the English department continued to thrive and deliver rich learning experiences to the students of West Kildonan Collegiate. Whether it was remote learning or in-class learning, students had the opportunity to learn something new.
Here are some snapshots of the year in passing.
The Reconciliaction course continued its 3rd successful year at West Kildonan Collegiate. Throughout the course, grade 9 students read Indian Horse, 250 Hours, trickster stories, myths, and other short texts that focused on Indigenous lives and culture. This year, the English department added a new novel to its repertoire: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline. Through this YA dystopian story, Dimaline explores the harrowing history of European colonization and Indigenous oppression in Canada. Moreover, students learned about different treaties, listened to stories of residential school survivors, studied the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action, and other current topics that revolved around Indigenous peoples.
Furthermore, as part of Orange Shirt Day on September 29th and 30th 2021, resources were sent out to the rest of the school in order to educate students and staff about residential schools and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The resources encouraged students to develop empathy for the Indigenous peoples of Canada. Ms. Geswein created Every Child Matters facemasks for staff to wear as a visual reminder of the day.
Students read a diverse selection of books this year. From classics like Macbeth and Of Mice and Men to more modern novels such as Flowers of Algernon and The Road, students experienced masterful writing filled with poetic language, powerful narratives, and engaging themes. Furthermore, some students read The Hate U Give, Indian Horse, A Long Way Gone, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and Shooter.
“Indian Horse explores residential schools and the intergenerational trauma, resilience, and ongoing healing of Indigenous peoples in Canada.”
The Hate U Give is a novel about police brutality and anti-black racism in the United States. Indian Horse explores residential schools and the intergenerational trauma, resilience, and ongoing healing of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Meanwhile, A Long Way Gone revolves around the civil war in Sierra Leone and the lives of child soldiers. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda examines the difficulties of coming out as 2SLGBTQ+ in our modern society. Lastly, Shooter illustrates the impact of family life, substance abuse, and bullying on youth’s mental health.
“Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda examines the difficulties of coming out as 2SLGBTQ+ in our modern society.”
These novels are important pieces in our ever-evolving landscape of Canadian education; as we move from a pedagogy of inclusion towards a pedagogy of anti-oppression, we educators are continuously expanding and diversifying the literary experiences of our students.