Chinese Student Tells Story of Water Dragon Park

St. Emily Grade 6 Student Helen Li Creates Video to Tell the Significance of the Barrhaven Park’s Features

By Jeff Morris

Barrhaven Independent

Thanks to the work of a Grade 6 student at St. Emily Catholic Elementary School, the story behind Barrhaven’s Water Dragon Park has now been told and will be available for generations to come.

Helen Li, a student in the St. Emily’s gifted program, put together a 17-minute video that is available for viewing on YouTube. In the video, she interviews park architect David Lashley, park planner Louise Ceverny, and former Ottawa Ward 22 councillor Steve Desroches.  explain the features and their significance. The video tells the story of the park’s features and their significance.

“Interviewing people was not easy, but it was a lot of fun,” Helen said. “I did a lot of research for the project and it really helped me understand a lot of things about the park.”

The project was done for Asian Heritage Month. St. Emily teacher Robert More approached Emily about doing the video and he helped her through the process.

“I know Helen well enough to know that she would do a great job with this,” More said. “The biggest feedback to date is how impressive it was to have a Grade 6 student with those interview skills and to be able to step in front of the camera like that. She spent a lot of hours researching this topic and preparing for the video.”

More said what makes Helen’s work even more impressive is that she is still learning to master the English language. “She has been in our program for two-and-a-half years, and it’s been incredible to watch how quickly she has learned.”

Helen was born in China and her family moved from Shanghai to Barrhaven three years ago. She had taken some English classes in China before moving to Canada, but had to adapt quickly to not only survive in a new culture and academic environment, but also shine in it.

“Canada has less people,” she said. “And a lot of people live in nice houses instead of big apartments,” she said.

Learning about the park and the connection to her own culture made the Water Dragon Park special for Helen.

“I really enjoyed doing this and I think it’s really cool that more people can learn about the park and the meanings of the different things at the park,” she said.

With St. Emily located beside the park, More said that Helen’s work will help restore and promote the significance of the park.

“The story is important,” More said. “A lot of people will be visiting the park this summer, and Helen’s work will help them understand the significance and importance of the park.”

The project was like a parting gift from Helen to the school. Next year, she will be commuting into Ottawa to study at Ashbury College. Although she said it was “quite fun to have a new learning experience” with the project, she currently has no plans to be a historian, researcher or journalist.

“I am hoping to be an interior designer,” she said.