Royal BC Museum’s youngest curators: Victoria fifth graders put on exhibit about minorities in Canada

Royal BC Museum's youngest curators: Victoria fifth graders put on exhibit about minorities in Canada

WATCH: For the first time, the work of elementary school students was displayed the Royal BC Museum. It was a class project on minorities in Canada turned into a pop-up exhibit. Isabelle Raghem reports. 

Only a few people get to display their work in a museum.

But a dozen students from Victoria’s Macaulay Elementary School had their projects showcased at the Royal BC Museum (RBCM) Saturday.

“We’ve had university students, high school students,” said RBCM Learning Program Developer Kim Gough, “This is the first elementary school.”

The one-day pop-up exhibit took a historical look at the treatment of minorities in Canada, from residential schools to the Komagata Muru and Chinese immigration.

“The Chinese were recruited to build the railway and some were also miners and they had to do all the dangerous work like putting explosives,” said fifth-grade student Ted Yu.

“Adults were taking children from their homes,” said one student as she displayed her poster on residential schools.

They are the youngest students to ever be featured at the RBCM.

“They were quite keen,” added Gough, “I made them curators for the day and they were wearing their badges. I think having this public face for their exhibit and for their research essentially helps them feel that it is more important, that there is a use and that someone cares about it.”

“I find so often that we learn about a topic and then we move on to another topic and there isn’t that opportunity to share what you’ve learned with the greater community,” said École Macaulay Elementary School teacher Deanna Reid.

“It?s just a lot more meaningful when you have a child explaining to an adult about these really important events that happened in our past. [It’s] that generational sharing,” added the grade 4/5 teacher.

It’s a very proud moment for Ted Yu’s parents who are immigrants of China. They said the project has given him perspective.

“For him, it’s a big change for his mind. Before he always [thought] life is so easy but now he knows more things,” said his mother Saturday.

While they are hard stories to tell, students say it is crucial to do so.

“To show we care about what happened,” said one student.

“To try to fix it and make it right,” said another.

The fifth graders say having their work displayed in a provincial museum is an experience they won’t forget.

Isabelle RaghemIsabelle Raghem

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