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DISE MA Grad Mounts Reconciliation Musical with Cycle Three Students


Published: 22Aug2019

Global news coverage of Reconciliation highlights how local teacher, and Department of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE) MA graduate Jennifer Hayden-Benn and her students, explore the theme of “Reconciliation” through drama and theatre, as a part of DISE’s Dr. Mindy R. Carter’s SSHRC Insight Development Grant (with Collaborator’s Dr. Claudia Mitchell, Jim Howden and Allan Vicaire).


Cycle 3 students at St Edmund Elementary School in Beaconsfield, Quebec presented the original musical "Reconciliation" that they wrote and performed, under the guidance of their teacher and McGill Faculty of Education MA graduate Jennifer Hayden-Benn. After the initial performance for their school, parents and invited guests, they were asked to present their show once more for grade 5 and 6 students from four schools in the Lester B. Pearson School Board. The invitation to re-mount this play was extended after a successful first run in late March 2019. The show was created to celebrate and raise awareness about Indigenous history in Canada. As a part of Carter’s SSHRC IDG, and in collaboration with Tom Dearhouse and Lisa Byer of KAIROS, a non-denominational group who created and leads the Blanket exercise, the ground-work for this production was laid. St. Edmund students were highly motivated to share what they’d learned though the Blanket exercise, which uses reader’s theatre and blankets as a metaphor for thinking about the land and identity in Canada pre and post-colonization. After being led through the KAIROS blanket exercise and meeting with Dr. Carter; students and Ms. Hayden-Benn created six scenes. The students consulted with Tom Dearhouse and Mohawk dancer Barbara Diabo to ensure that their writing was honest and accurate. Inuit throat-singer, Nina Segalowitz, further worked with the students to combine her art form with some of their original songs.

Global news coverage of the production can be viewed by clicking here.