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City School Students Put Themselves in Judge Berger's Chair

Teachers and students from City School at King George Secondary got out of the classroom Tuesday morning and headed down to UBC Robson Square for a unique, hands-on experience. Across the district schools were participating in Reconciliation Week and City School took this opportunity to learn more about the Berger Inquiry (1974-77).

Over three years, a few dozen Dene and Inuvialiut young people, most of whom had just left residential schools, organized a movement to stop the construction of a natural gas pipeline through the Northwest Territories until their land claims were settled. They were successful in galvanizing people across Canada to support their demands.

The exhibition invited each student to read the first-person story of one of the participants. Students worked to resolve four key environmental and socio-economic concerns. They then put themselves in Judge Berger's chair and negotiate recommendations. Finally, students were asked to compare their solutions with those proposed by other high schools across Canada.

The curator, Drew Ann Wake, led the students in a lively workshop, where they negotiated and challenged each other's points of view.

"Congratulations!" said Wake to a small group of teens. "You have managed to come to a conclusion in a matter of minutes, one which took the courts back then years to come to."

One of the tenets of City School is to "use the city as a classroom". Students from City School frequently participate in activities around the city, and utilize Vancouver's unique cultural spaces as learning opportunities.

Click on the image below to check out our Flickr album for more photos.

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