In this video, 17-year-old Hanna Bryant tells her story of moving to a new community at the age of eleven. Reflecting on this difficult transition, Hanna discovers that the connection to her traditional language and culture significantly helped define who she is and facilitated a sense of belonging.
Hanna’s experience strongly connects with the ingredients that support resiliency in children and youth, particularly when resilience is viewed through a cultural framework. Monique Gray-Smith is a mixed-heritage woman of Cree, Lakota and Scottish ancestry. Monique is a consultant, author and international speaker on the subject of resilience. Monique suggests that the strategies to foster resilience in Indigenous children include developing a sense of self, a sense of family, a sense of community and a sense of culture, language and land. It is this fourth element that she describes as “the one that enwraps all elements of the child” that Hanna experienced both through loss and a powerful reconnection.
Share this video with colleagues to spark an exploration of how teachers and mentors educate the mind and touch the heart of their students.
What resonated for you in Hanna’s story?
What is your culture?
What cultures are represented in your classroom?
How does your culture and language open doors to relationship building with students?
What were some of the strategies Hanna talked about that her ‘teachers’ used that you could either strengthen or begin to weave into your practice?
In what ways is Hanna resilient?
How do you foster resilience with your students?
Use the video and questions below as a starting point to engage students in reflection and dialogue.
1. Hook Activity: Think-Pair-Share
How do you feel when you belong? (Prompt: Imagine a family, group of friends, or team - how do you think, act, feel, talk, behave?)
Show the video and discuss Hanna’s challenges in making the transition to a new school and community. Uncover the key ideas of change, self/cultural awareness and developing resilience.
- Initial thoughts and feelings to Hanna’s story?
- How do you think she might have felt during her move from Haida Gwaii to Prince Rupert?
- In what ways is Hanna resilient?
- In what ways are her culture and language resilient?
2. Exploring Key Ideas
Share a time when you thought change was going to be difficult but it turned out to be a positive experience. Name the elements of the situation that you think made a positive difference.
On four pieces of paper, write or visually define your sense of self, sense of family, sense of community and sense of culture, language and land.
Consider potential challenges to becoming resilient. From the following list, choose one. Describe how it could challenge resilience and propose action ideas to address within a school setting.
- History of Residential Schools and resulting inter-generational trauma
- Family Violence
- Everyday Stress
- Lack of access to traditional/cultural foods and activities
At the end of the video, Hanna shared about her teachers also being mentors and we saw her emotionally moved by the impact they’ve had on her life. Who have been the people in your life who have helped you? What qualities make a positive mentor?
3. Extending and Connecting Key Ideas
What attitudes, strategies or behaviours help with transitions in school? In life?
What are ways to connect with other students who are new or different than you?
We heard Hanna talk about how important her culture and language are in her strength? What helps you be strong?
Researchers call the ability to handle challenging situations in a way that promotes well-being "resilience."