In the times we live in currently, Reconciliation is a term used and spoke of quite often. To see it acted out though, is another story. The Friendship Centre at Sir Guy Carleton is a great example of what can happen when people collaborate in a good way. This space was created with Indigenous student voice, administration and staff advocacy, non-Indigenous student support, experiential learning, community contributions and inclusivity of many cultures. It was created so that Indigenous students had a safe space to go to as well as a space for non-Indigenous students to learn and observe Indigenous culture.
Miigwetch.Josh Lewis, Indigenous Support Coordinator, OCDSB
From the outset the goal at Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School was to transform their Friendship Centre into the welcoming and supportive environment they had envisioned it to be. Students and staff in collaboration with Knowledge Keepers, Community Elders, and The OCDSB First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Education team, created a space for First Nation, Metis and Inuit students and staff, and the larger school context to grow and develop as individuals and as members of a greater community.
The design of the space was imagined, planned, developed, and brought to life by students: Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School’s Spirits of the Feather Group conceived of the cedar accent wall, the shelving and the coffee table, which were in turn built by students in the Construction and Woodworking classes.
Working alongside professional artist Kirk Brant (@KirkBrant), students in SGC’s Communication Technology classes documented the creation, development and experience of the artwork painted by students in SGC’s art classes. The final canvas acts as a centrepiece to the space anchoring the windowless room in nature.
Over 100 students were involved in the project from start to finish; 33% of the student population at Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School. In addition to the Spirits of the Feather Group, the Friendship Centre is being used by other clubs and groups within the school including LGBTTQ+, PEERS, and Student Leadership as a meeting place. Community partners including Wabano, and Inuuqatigiit, as well as the The OCDSB First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Education team are using the space to facilitate connection and learning beyond the walls of the school (Read Josh Lewis’ reflection on the Friendship Centre).
The Friendship Centre has become an extension of the classrooms at Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School, using the space as an enhancement to learning and teachings.
The students have created a vibrant hub that will be enjoyed by their peers for many years to come.