Messages that shared a belief in anti-racism and diversity have earned two groups of Saskatoon Public Schools' students recognition through the City of Saskatoon's Living In Harmony awards.
Three students from Pleasant Hill School — Travis Bird, Brooklyn Dreger, and Geordie Laliberte — received the award for Best Elementary Submission for their podcast on the topic of anti-racism.
Meanwhile, posters created by a Grade 7/8 class from Greystone Heights School that illustrated their commitment to anti-racism and understanding received the award for Outstanding Classroom Participation. A poster by student Steven Qiu was recognized as Best Overall Poster.
The Living in Harmony Awards are part of an effort by the City of Saskatoon to foster an inclusive community where ethnocultural diversity is welcomed and valued, and where everyone can live with dignity and pursue their full potential without facing racism or discrimination. The awards are presented annually.
Christine Loewen, a teacher at Greystone Heights, said the students' work is a good fit with the goals of the Living in Harmony awards.
"In my classroom, anti-racism education is interwoven into all subject areas. We look at practices and actions to challenge and counter racism. We celebrate uniqueness and acceptance of others," she said. "We are hoping to build a community of youth that are committed to combating racism and supporting inclusion for all. This art competition gave students the opportunity to express this."
The posters used colourful images of people linking together or building a bridge to represent understanding and shared messages calling for the end to racism and emphasizing the importance of equality and anti-racist action.
The Pleasant Hill students created a three-minute podcast where they share perspective on learning about, embracing, and respecting the culture of others. They discuss the importance of listening to the voices of people of colour on social media, instead of those with racist or exclusionary views.
Their work as co-creators and the opportunity to voice their thoughts for a wider audience to hear resonated with the students.
"It felt great and was fun making it; a new experience," Geordie said. "It was a little embarrassing hearing my voice at first but better that people hear the impact of what's happening in our community."
Travis said sharing the perspective of youth is one way to help others learn. Brooklyn said it was important to share the message with friends and classmates. Their learning and discussion made her look at the topic in a new way.
"Hearing my friends talk about it made me realize how much racism is in the world," she said.
Sharing information through a podcast format allowed all of the students to connect their learning with their individual experiences and ways in which they consume information as students are familiar with the podcast format from their own listening experience. Given the option, students welcomed an oral assignment as it allows them to use a more dynamic and stylistic approach.