Winnipeg’s Future Human Rights Leaders
Grosvenor School: Honouring the past, questioning the present, and building the future
…a program worth growing!
“Let’s put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children”
- Sitting Bull
Introduction to three-year human rights program
I recently attended an outstanding performance by the students of Grosvenor School. This incredible night of entertainment entitled Coming Home is the school’s third annual production attributed to growing a human rights approach in education. The fine arts evening showcased a tremendous amount of young talent and creativity by the student body performed in a variety of artistic ways, demonstrating the exceptional learning experienced by the children attending Grosvenor School.
This three-year program is passionately led by the school’s principal, Brad Corbett, and is supported by a dedicated staff, caring community and nurturing parents.
I interviewed Mr. Corbett to learn more about this initiative and discovered that the program design from the get-go had a primary goal of integrating a human rights approach into the daily life and learning for all children from preschool to grade six. Brad shared that his vision dates back to 2009 and was originally inspired by David. J. Smith’s book If the World Were a Village, along with the knowledge that Winnipeg would soon be opening a world-renowned museum dedicated to enhancing the public's understanding of human rights, promoting respect for others and to encouraging reflection and dialogue.
The Story Children Project: the children worked with a storyteller and an artistic designer to build an art installation made up of four larger than life Story Children; metal frames in the shape of children covered with coloured strips of fabric on which the children have recorded their dreams and wishes for a better world.
Mr. Corbett recognized early on that Grosvenor School’s three-year program had the potential to follow a parallel path that would see the program continue to develop and grow, similar to the museum’s physical structure taking form and rising up out of the ground, reaching towards the sky, as embodied in the Tower of Hope.
This concept of building and growing was represented in the theme of each year’s program naming, with year one named All Aboard…The Journey Begins, year two named Open Road, and year three named Coming Home.
The way the program works is that school staff and students are grouped together into four mixed-aged ‘Villages’ that are representative of the four cardinal directions – North Village, South Village, East Village and West Village. This idea is line with traditional teachings of the medicine wheel and creates a school community that consists of a Global Village that respects and values the contributions of individuals from each village. The creation of the Four Villages honours the past and values Aboriginal concepts of community, where respect, sharing and equity are key roots to growing a healthy community and environment. Led by the school’s Aboriginal Support Teacher, staff, parents and students learn the importance of living a life that follows the Seven Sacred Teachings of love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility and truth.
A coloured strip of fabric from the Story Children Project: "Together we can start world peace, but one cannot spread it without love"
Keeping to each year’s theme, each Village group engages in art, creating inspiring messages of hope and opportunity delivered through performance and visual art mediums, culminating in the school’s annual Fine Arts Evening. The performance element strongly demonstrates the entire school’s collective effort and hope for positive change in the world.
A coloured strip of fabric from the Story Children Project: "More than one person can make world peace"
Winnipeg can look forward to future performances put on by Grosvenor School as I discovered that the program will continue into a fourth year, with next year’s theme being In Our Backyard. Stay tuned!