Bluewater District School Board

Bluewater's Thoughtful Space Unveiled at Alexandra page

Thoughtful Space Unveiled at Alexandra

Thoughtful Space Unveiled at Alexandra
Posted on 06/21/2022
Tarmac at Alexandra Community School with coloured handprints and slogan, "Every Child Matters"On National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, Alexandra Community School invited members of the community to a special presentation to show support for our shared journey on the Good Path in life.

Students, staff, families, partners, and other community members convened outside the school along the 7th Avenue boulevard as Principal Dan Russell formally introduced the school's new Thoughtful Space.  The itinerary also included a smudging ceremony, remarks from Bluewater District School Board Indigenous Advisor Melissa Kahgee-Ritchie and City of Owen Sound Mayor Ian Boddy, and drumming from the Alexandra men's drum group.  In addition to the orange shirts worn by many of the attendees, several students and staff could be seen sporting their Alexandra Eagles T-shirts listing the Seven Grandfather Teachings.

Alexandra's Thoughtful Space includes seven trees recently planted by students and City of Owen Sound staff.  Each tree is adorned with a stone at its base containing a plaque with one of the teachings transcribed in Ojibwe and English.  A bench, which will soon be embedded in a concrete base, is positioned to face the school.  At the far end of the space, the tarmac leading to the school's back entrance is decorated with coloured handprints from every student in the school and the painted slogan, "Every Child Matters".   

The following description, in the words of Alexandra Eagle staff, outlines the meaning and intent behind the Thoughtful Space:
Over the past four years, Alexandra staff and students have been learning about how one follows the 'Good Path' in life.  In Ojibwe, the words to describe this are 'Mino Bimaadizwin'.  We have learned that staying on this path does not happen by accident.  Rather, it requires guidance from our elders, experience, making mistakes, and learning from them.  To help us in our journey, we have been learning about the Seven Grandfather Teachings and working hard to put them into action in our lives.

The discovery of the remains of 215 children on the grounds of the former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia and other similar discoveries since then have had a significant impact on our school community.  In addition to feeling profound sadness at the loss suffered, we have been reminded of how trauma and mistakes in our lives can so easily push us or lead us off the 'Good Path' in life.  It has also taught us that if these traumas and mistakes are not dealt with or corrected, they can have a disastrous effect.

The creation of Alexandra's Thoughtful Space is intended to help us "remember the past and build for the future together."  We believe that the residential schools chapter of our shared history must not be forgotten and that we must learn from these and other mistakes from our past.  However, we also believe that sharing our learning journey along the Good Path in life will help our school and our community to work together to build a better future.

Bench on boulevard facing Alexandra Community SchoolAlexandra's Thoughtful Space will be used for rest, remembrance, and reflection.  The seven trees planted in this area represent each of the Grandfather Teachings.  The colourful hands of the students painted on the tarmac remind us that authentic reconciliation and healing will take time and depend on our children learning to make the 'right' decisions in life.  The pathway painted on the sidewalk represents our shared journey along the Good Path in life.

Let us remember the past, respect the present, and build the future... together.

Principla Russell addresses crowd as elder prepares for smudging ceremonyMayor Boddy brings remarksBWDSB Indigenous Advisor brings remarks
Students and staff listen to presentation on boulevard outside Alexandra Community SchoolStudents drumming
Stone with plaque for "Debwewin/Truth"Stone with plaque for "Aakdehewin/Courage"
Stone with plaque for "Minaadendmowin/Respect"Stone with plaque for "Gwekwadiziwin/Honesty"
Stone with plaque for "Nbwaakaawin/Wisdom"Stone with plaque for "Dbaadendizwin/Humility"
Stone with plaque for "Zaagidwin/Love"
Bluewater District School Board is located on the traditional land of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, which is represented by the communities of Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.
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