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Our third day with the students at Rick Hansen Secondary School began with a land acknowledgement by Damian George. Damian spoke of the importance of knowing history and mother language. He spoke about his own process of relearning his own history and language. With this in mind, we welcomed students to the theme of our third conference day – “History: Understanding Our Present”.


The rest of the morning was full of workshop time for the students and facilitators. Students participated in our core workshop for the day – “Ancestral Voices & Family Stories”. In that workshop, students were able to share their take-home assignment from Conference Day 2, which was an interview of a family member. Students completed family history interviews with a family member and brought them to the workshop to share in a world cafe learning activity whereby they sat in small groups and each had a turn to discuss their individual interviews. Once all students had an opportunity to share, they would move into a new group and repeat the activity. There was a total of three rotations in the world cafe.


Facilitators also had a chance to share their own family stories with the students. One of our facilitators, Jasmine, shared an interview she did of her 84 year old grandfather and his experience of Partition.


After the core workshop, students participated in one of the five following elective workshop sessions:

  • Healing the Historical Legacy of Partition
  • Examining the Conflict in Kashmir and Peaceful Solutions
  • Examining the Civil War in Sir Lanka
  • Examining Ethnic Conflict
  • South Asian Diaspora


Students appreciated the elective workshops, writing in their feedback that learning their own history was important “because not many people in my family talk about it” and that “history happened in our own community but we don’t learn about it”.


Throughout the day, the student organizing committee were practicing their media skills by interviewing their classmates, taking photos of the workshops, and writing blog entries about the day. The project staff, one of the facilitators, Isaac, and one of the technology teachers at Rick Hansen worked with the student organizing committee to make sure students had the support for their media work.


After a delicious lunch provided by Gian’s – a local Indian restaurant – students returned to their core groups to finalize planning on their community service projects. They were assisted in their planning by their teacher and facilitator. The students divided up into different groups within their core groups to finalize roles and responsibilities for their projects.


To close the day, students were given extra time to plan their community service projects, and presented updates on their community projects to the rest of their. Students were excited to learn about each other’s community service projects, some of which were fundraising for the Abbotsford Food Bank through a candy sale, writing letters through Amnesty to protest arranged child marriages, and planning a red-carpet party for a group of recently arrived Syrian refugee schoolmates.