Submitted by Bo Sidhu, Vice-Principal , RHSS
For the 2015-16 school year, Rick Hansen Secondary and The Mosaic Institute, a Toronto based not-for-profit society, began an education partnership to provide The Next Generation: Canadian Global Citizenship Project as an integrated school curriculum for all of the school’s 150 grade 9 students.
Between February and June, students attended 10 workshops, designed and implemented five community service projects (Abbotsford Food Bank, Amnesty International, Vivek Foundation, Global Medic, and welcoming Syrian students at RHSS), and participated in a United Nations style ‘Youth Summit’. Student groups presented to a Youth Summit Special Panel on the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as what they saw as solutions to solving some of the world’s biggest humanitarian, and environmental justice issues. The panel consisted of RHSS principal David DeWit, Board of Education Trustee Stan Petersen, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Gino Bondi, and Kirpa Kaur, an Abbotsford community organizer who has played an integral role of bringing social services to women and girls in the local Punjabi Sikh community.
“The Next Generation: Canadian Global Citizenship Project” of the Mosaic Institute is a global citizenship education project for Canadian high school students that began in 2011. The overall purpose of this project is to encourage and support youth to become active agents of social change and promoters of peace and justice in Canada, and around the world. The program has engaged nearly 1,000 secondary school students from five school districts in Ontario and British Columbia.
The project provides high school students with 20 specially designed workshops over six conference-format days. Workshop curriculum includes opportunities to explore identities, family histories, migration, Canada’s Aboriginal communities, Canadian challenges on the road to becoming a multi-cultural country, and active Global Citizenship. Each day, students had a special guest speaker who is a role-model. These included Naveen Girn who created the 100-year anniversary art exhibit honouring the Komogatu Maru; Ranj Dhailwal, a former gangster and now a best-selling author who encourages youth to refrain from joining youth gangs; Audrey Siegl a community leader from the Musqueam Nation; and Anjali Appadurai , an environmental activist working at the UN level.
An equally important part of Next Generation is the development and implementation of community service projects (CSP), which seek to encourage students to take what they have learned and apply it outside of the classroom. One of these projects was a partnership with the Abbotsford Food Bank. To better educate the community on the hunger assistance work being done by the Sikh community, the students created a website and video (in both Punjabi and English) that showed the food assistance work being done by the Sikh community and also the common aims shared by the Food Bank and the Sikh Temple in Abbotsford.
RHSS students during Conference
Student comments about the things they learned during the Next Generation Program and Youth Summit included:
• “Injustice takes place around the world – how to be more inclusive/open-minded. Everyone has a voice.”
• “Canada is truly a diverse country. Working together to solve a community project was fun. Always embrace your culture.”
• “It has taught me so much about what happens around me. There are so many good role models that I didn’t know about.”
• “This program is very informative and makes me think differently about the things around me.”
• “That we can make a difference by taking small steps.”
COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECTS:
Pictures of welcoming Syrian Refugees to RHSS :