Over the course of this year, more than a dozen Halton District School Board secondary schools have been busy creating artistic doors that have now been donated to the Halton-Mississauga-Dufferin’s Habitat for Humanity
as part of a fundraising effort for the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation community.
Called Open A Door
, students were provided with an interior home door and asked to apply their artistic talents to create a one-of-a-kind piece. These doors are now part of a live online auction
which will raise funds for Habitat’s Tiny Home Build
program. Several schools in the HDSB skilled trades and construction programs
are building tiny homes which will help Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation community address a housing shortage crisis.
Syl Apps School is among the HDSB schools taking part in this project. The door students created was inspired by Jordan River Anderson, founder of Jordan’s Principle
. Jordan’s Principle is a legal requirement that ensures First Nations children can access the services they need, when they need them. One of the main features of the door includes a bear
Dana Chiarot, secondary teacher at Syl Apps Youth Centre - First Nations, Metis and Inuit Studies Program, says this project fits with the learning taking place at the school.
“The First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Studies Program at Syl Apps is focused on project and inquiry-based learning, so this door project was a perfect opportunity for us,” she says. “I wanted to give my students the opportunity to connect with Jordan’s story and share their opinions and experiences.”
“The door represents transitions and new beginnings. When one door closes another door opens,” says Chloe, a Grade 7 student. “We want our door to open up to true reconciliation in Canada. We wanted to create a piece of art that had an important message and purpose.”
Chiarot says the project provided many deep learning opportunities, which included inviting Steve Paquette, the HDSB’s Indigenous Knowledge Guide, to help students make strong Indigenous connections to the design of their door. The experiential learning project also connects with the Indigenous Awareness and Perspectives area of focus in the HDBS’s 2020-2024 Multi-Year Plan
Chiarot says students used the door project to connect with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
’s 94 Calls to Action. This year the class is focusing on Call to Action #83, which includes analyzing the role of art in supporting reconciliation and justice for First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities within Canadian society.
M.M. Robinson High School embraced its participation in Open A Door. Its door design was predicated on the theme of natural flora and fauna, with the goal of inspiring others to be environmentally responsible.
“As soon as we heard about this project, we knew that it would be a lovely way to foster community spirit and a sense of belonging,” says teacher Janessa Friesen. “It brings the whole school together by utilizing cross-department collaboration.”
For Grade 10 student Laila Hadba, the experience had such an impact on her that she plans to help with set design in the school’s future drama productions.
"Working on this door was a wonderful learning opportunity,” says Laila. “I learned how much work goes into making large pieces of artwork; there is a lot of pre-planning and difficult decision-making. It also sharpened my understanding of colour and composition.”