I was honoured to attend the traditional School Naming Ceremony at Mountainside on May 14th where we witnessed the unveiling of the new Coast Salish designed sign. Students helped organize the day’s activities which honoured Squamish Nation traditions and culture. Welcome Smanitaxan!
Although National Aboriginal Day is June 21st, special celebrations of Aboriginal culture and heritage in schools began earlier in the year. In addition to the ceremonies at Mountainside, schools have organized their own school-wide National Aboriginal Day activities and events with involvement of the local First Nations and Metis Peoples. To highlight a few:
In the month of May at Seycove Secondary School, staff worked with Tsleil Waututh Nation cultural leaders to bring the local, place history to the classrooms. Tsleil Waututh Nation members brought games and activities in to the classroom by using the hanqiminem language. The cultural events wrapped up with a traditional feast and cedar weaving.
At Carson Graham Secondary, Aboriginal Week was April 13 – 16th and opened with Canadian actor Darrell Dennis, who provided the keynote address at the school-wide assembly. The activities included interactive workshops led by esteemed elders and leaders in the Squamish Community. The school set up a replica traditional longhouse and village near the ceremonial fire. Students from the Carson Graham Family of Schools joined in the final day’s dancing celebration and festivities.
The Sutherland Family of Schools will be hosting a Celebration of Belonging on June 15th. The event will include 2300 students and staff from 5 schools coming together to create a giant sized representation of Squamish artist Rick Harry’s Sabretooth Tiger, representing the values of generosity, belonging, mastery and independence. Each student will represent a ‘dot’ of colour in this field sized artwork which will be filmed and photographed from 80-100 feet above by a commissioned artist. The event will be attended by Rick Harry, will be opened with a blessing and welcome to traditional territories by Sutherland graduate Adina Williams, and will feature a drumming presentation by North Vancouver students.
On June 18th, Westview Elementary will begin Aboriginal Day with a special Honouring Ceremony for the two students who worked on the new Westview School logo. Submissions from Anna M. and Liam M. were selected in the school-wide contest to find a logo that represents a culturally diverse group of families who come together to create a unique school community. The new logo preserves the original Squamish message – Ta na wa Ns7éyxnitm tlá Teltíwet (meaning ‘Guardian of the west wind’) and features Liam’s drawing of First Nations design of the Salmon:
At the Education Services Centre on June 8th, Brad Baker presented the film We Were Children, a true story about Residential Schools in Canada. The film, by the National Film Board was a somber and powerful look into the lives of two Aboriginal children who shared their experiences in their own words. The film was followed by an intimate discussion about the Residential School System and experiences of family members here in North Vancouver.
Finally, the First Nations Graduation Ceremony will take place at the Chief Joe Mathias Centre on June 24th where all First Nations, Metis and Inuit grads are invited. This is an honouring ceremony for these students conducted by protocol.
I raise my hands in thanks to Brad Baker and the Aboriginal Education Advisory Committee for their guidance and support in weaving Aboriginal Culture into our schools. Huy chewx a!