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Nanaimo Christian School Students create opera The Road to Freedom

Nanaimo Christian School opera, which shows Wednesday and Thursday (March 8-9), raises awareness about slavery.
Hayden Hugh

Slavery still persists around the world despite laws against it.

"Not everybody knows that there is still slavery and we need to get the word out," said Claire Kingsley, a student at Nanaimo Christian School.

Students at the school have been studying both modern slavery and the history of slavery in connection to Canada's Underground Railroad. Grades 3-5 have created an opera Road to Freedom to raise awareness about the issue.

Students have been involved in every aspect of the production including writing the script and music, creating costumes and set designs, lighting and more.

"I'm really proud of the kids and just how they banded together as a team and just worked hard with their different tasks," said Chris Verveda, director and Nanaimo Christian School teacher, adding that each student has found a place in the production. "Just like there are different parts of the body every part is important, so we really look at how we treat each other with respect . .. it's a huge community project and a different style of learning."

Road to Freedom examines two time periods – the time of Canada's Underground Railroad and modern slavery in Canada and the United States.

Hayden Hugh, who plays two roles in the opera, a slave and a Canadian, said the students want to work to stop slavery in the world and raise awareness about the issue.

"It's not good and it doesn't really matter what people are, the colour of their skin, every person is the same," said Hugh.

Kaitlyn Pomeroy, plays Adam, a slave who escapes the Hansen plantation. The character is based on Adam in the book Underground to Canada, written by Barbara Smucker. Adam escapes with his friends Lester, Julilly and Sally from a plantation in southern United States with a plan to make their way to Canada.

Pomeroy said she would like people to know that even today there are kids who are working in slavery and they don't have the chance to attend school because they have to work.

Road to Freedom runs Wednesday to Thursday (March 8-9) at 7 p.m. at Nanaimo Christian School's gymnasium. The performance is free to attend, but there will be a donation box for International Justice Mission Canada, a global organization that works to protect the poor from violence in the developing world, rescue victims and bring criminals to justice.