Osler Elementary Grade 7 student Helena Kantowicz was recently honoured for a polished and in-depth film she created about residential schools in Canada. Kantowicz was among the four winners of the national Young Citizens Award (another winner was Nicolas Cain from Captain James Cook Elementary).
Her former teacher Virginia Bowden wasn't surprised to see such an impressive entry. She remembers how Kantowicz periodically would blow her away with presentations that seemed to transcend her grade level.
"She has the drive and determination and a voice to be heard," said Bowden.
Osler Principal Shannon Burton said Kantowicz researched, searched out interviewees and learned how to edit and produce the film with iMovie independently. The film, which can be viewed here, was part of her school heritage fair project.
"Something I found shocking was that before I did this project I had no idea that this had even happened," said Kantowicz.
Bowden says that her former student was particularly determined to dig into the subject because of the horror it provoked when she learned that the government could have treated aboriginal peoples so poorly in the past.
"It was an eye opener. So it came as no surprise that she would pick a challenging topic for her Historica Fair project- Residential Schools. Throughout her research Helena would come to me with disturbing bits of information regarding residential schools," said Bowden. "She could not believe that government would treat the First Nations people that way. Helena very much wanted to let others know about this dark stain on Canada's past."
As a result of her work, both Kantowicz and Cain travelled to Ottawa to present their films at the Canada's History Forum on November 18. They were also invited to a special reception at Rideau Hall and celebration dinner at the Canadian Museum of Civilization on November 19.