Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Marking Wrongful Conviction Day at ODSS

View of the display upon entering the Learning
Commons. The bright colours seem to contradict
the gravity of the injustice, but there is also a
level of happiness about being
In Grade 11 College Preparation English (ENG3C), we do a unit about the wrongfully convicted. Traditionally, the viewing of the film Conviction culminates in the writing of a letter to the Innocence Project in the United States. Students are responsible for researching a person who was wrongfully convicted, and writing a letter of gratitude to the Innocence Project.

Taylor's poster
Three semesters ago I did some research and discovered that there was a Canadian equivalent to the Innocence Project: The Association in Defence of the Wrongfully Convicted (AIDWYC). I decided that students would learn about Canadians who were wrongfully convicted and AIDWYC helped to exonerate. Some of the exonerees include Steven Truscott, David Milgaard, and Guy Paul Morin.

Students in both my classes last year wrote letters of gratitude to AIDWYC. One of the best parts of this activity was AIDWYC's personalized response. I was pretty excited when AIDWYC wrote me a letter acknowledging my class's work.

Then things got weird.

Alex's poster
I noticed that my students were being called down to the office. I couldn't figure out why until one student informed me that they were getting letters from AIDWYC. The wonderful people at AIDWYC found the time to write PERSONALIZED letters to each of my students. They also shared my students' work with the exonerees. I was amazed.

This year, instead of writing letters of gratitude, my class put together a display to mark Wrongful Conviction Day, which is October 2, 2015. Students still completed research, but instead of writing a letter, they had to make a poster to educate the ODSS community about the exonerees and to raise awareness about the grave injustices that unfortunately occur in the Canadian legal system.

I am grateful that AIDWYC exists to protect the rights of Canadians and to play a role in bringing the outside world into the classroom.

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