4.6.1 Extending the impact
However, there are other impacts of this particular inquiry project as described to us by the teachers and leaders of Arrow Lakes during our site visit. The teachers and students involved in creating these films ended their study by hosting a community film festival for family and community members in the Silverton Gallery. A second event was held in Nakusp at the Bonnington Arts Centre, where a different group of students’ films were shown and traditional foods served. Teachers and district staff alike commented on the impact the showing of these films had on parents and community members. They described how parents expressed great interest and in some cases, surprise about their own local histories. They suggested that this event served as an important catalyst, one that is creating the conditions necessary for greater acceptance and inclusion in the community. As the District Principal of Learning, Terry Taylor expressed: “I was sitting in the audience, being amazed at the respectful engagement that people in the community demonstrated; it was such a contrast to the racist attitudes that had been present.” These observations about a shift in community thinking to one that was more culturally inclusive of Aboriginal peoples was also substantiated during an interview with a newly hired school principal who described what she saw as a notable and tangible “shift” in the attitudes, beliefs and acceptance towards Aboriginal peoples since her arrival in the community three years earlier.
What is evident from the examples included here is how the efforts of the district are extending well beyond the classroom and are having impacts upon their student population and the broader community at large. While the stories provided here are anecdotal in nature, they add to the overall evidence of how the work of the AESN and Aboriginal education initiatives are enabling broader cultural and community acceptance of Aboriginal peoples and making their community a safer and more inclusive space for diverse cultural identities.