The Indian residential school system and its impact now feature in the school curriculum of every Canadian province and territory. Residential schools are part of Canada’s past, and though they make up the most tragic chapter of the country’s history, no account of the Canadian story is complete without giving it the place it deserves.
WILLIAM can be used as a teaching tool to deepen the learning experience of students aged 13 and older. Through it they will learn, often for the first time, the sad reality of the residential school system. This virtual reality experience can help students become active witnesses of the material they learn in the classroom.
By diving into a dramatic world, they will experience, at a more visceral level, something they could otherwise ignore by confining it to history textbooks. In bringing real events back to life, WILLIAM makes it clear to the user that residential schools are a part of the lives of thousands of Indigenous people who must still deal today with the effects of a system that had a disastrous effect on their culture, their communities, and themselves.
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By adopting a first-person perspective, WILLIAM invites us to look into the personal, day-to-day experience of the residential school children. Every episode depicts a key event that every young resident had to live out.
Those experience therefore raises a number of questions that can be addressed more systematically in the classroom after viewing. Here are some examples of discussion topics that could follow the viewing of the six episodes.