All posts by John Lewis

National Aboriginal Day Activities

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!

Smamtaxan - MSS New Sign

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!


Primary Days of Music

It was a pleasure to welcome the Primary Days of Music 2015 to the Education Services Centre in May.

This year’s celebration of music involved 22 schools and over 2600 primary students. All week long we enjoyed the happy sounds of the students singing, dancing and playing instruments. The groups showcased their performances with enthusiasm and learned some new songs as well!

Primary Days of Music brings together students, their teachers, and guests to experience group singing and movement. Thank you to Music Teachers Margaret Inglis and Bruce Sled and Director of Fine Arts Yolande Martinello for putting together another excellent music experience for our students.



2015 CNV and DNV Youth Awards

I am thrilled to post the list of recipients for this year’s Youth Awards:

City of North Vancouver:

CNV 2015 Youth Awards- Recipient List – Youth Awards and Scholarships

District of North Vancouver:

DNV 2015 Youth Awards- Recipient List – Youth Awards and Scholarships

Several of our schools were represented in their respective municipalities and I wish to congratulate all the students who were selected for an award.

The Civic Youth Awards program recognizes youth in four categories: Youth Recognition Award, Youth Community Enhancement Award, Outstanding Youth Friendly Business/Supporter of Youth Award, and Outstanding Youth Team Award.

Thank you everyone who took the time to nominate these outstanding students who deserve to be recognized for their achievements and contributions to their community.

And thank you to the CNV/DNV Councils for their support of this program and ongoing commitment to local youth.


Concours d’art oratoire 2015

On Monday April 13, 2015 the Canadian Parents for French BC & Yukon Branch and the North Vancouver School District 44 hosted the annual district finals for the French public speaking competition, Concours d’art oratoire 2015. Students in grades 6 through 12, from across the school district, came to the Education Services Centre and delivered the speech that won them first prize at their school. The event was very well attended and the large audience consisted of judges, family members, school principals, the North Shore News, friends, and fellow students. The level and the quality of French presented was impressive and blew everyone away. It was truly inspiring to see the perseverance, hard work and passion of every finalist shine through. It was a real celebration of French!

Here are the winners of the 2015 North Vancouver School District Concours d’art oratoire:


Immersion tardive 6e: Arman Hariri (Braemar)

Immersion précoce 6e: Stefania Stirban (Cleveland)

Immersion tardive 7e: Kelsey Steffen (Boundary)

Immersion précoce 7e: Nia Wagner (Larson)

Francophone 7e: Gabrielle Webb (Braemar)

Ele Fr
(Left to right: Kelsey Steffen, Stefania Stirban, Arman Hariri, Nia Wagner, and Gabrielle Webb)



Immersion 8e: Nora Godard-Despot (Handsworth)

Francophone 8e: Genevieve McKay (Handsworth)

Immersion 9e: Lewis Arnold (Handsworth)

Francophone 9e: Lelia Kostiuk (Argyle)

Immersion 10e: Matthew Wilson (Handsworth)

Francophone 10e: Shana Edalat (Handsworth)

Immersion 11e: Jack Wright (Handsworth)

Immersion 12e: Joshua Johnson (Argyle)

Sec Fr
Back row, left to right: Jack Wright and Joshua Johnson Front row, left to right: Matthew Wilson, Lelia Kostiuk, Lewis Arnold, Genevieve McKay, Nora Godard-Despot, and Shana Edalat)


Provincial Finals

10,000 students from across British Columbia competed in the 2015 Concours d’art oratoire, and our 13 finalists joined the 240 students that made the provincial finals at SFU – Surrey Campus. We are extremely proud of our students for their incredible work, as North Vancouver led the way in winning the top awards for this year’s Provincial French Public Speaking Competition!

2015 Provincial finalists from North Vancouver:

Lewis Arnold – Grade 9 Immersion – “La domination ou la soumission?: L’homme vis-à-vis     la nature” – École Handsworth Secondary Nia Wagner – Grade 7 Early Immersion – “L’influence d’Adolf Hiter” – École Larson Elementary Arman Hariri – Grade 6 Late Immersion – “Les enfants et l’avenir” – École Braemar Elementary Jack Wright – Grade 11 Immersion – “Les paradoxes” – École Handsworth Secondary

Provincial Winners from North Vancouver:

Genevieve McKay Grade 8 Francophone “Le travail des enfants” École Handsworth Secondary (1st Place)

Norah Goddard-Despot Grade 8 Immersion “La science derrière le cerveau adolescents” École Handsworth Secondary (3rd Place)

Matthew Wilson Grades 10 Immersion “L’importance des langues” École Handsworth Secondary (1st Place)

Joshua Johnson Grade 12 Early Immersion “Le problème avec la démocratie au Canada” École Argyle Secondary (3rd Place)

Stefania Stirban Grade 6 Early Immersion “Une statue qui donne la liberté” École Cleveland Elementary (1st Place)

Kelsey Steffen Grade 7 Late Immersion “Joshua Tree” École Boundary Elementary (2nd Place)

Leila Kostiuk Grade 9 Francophone “Le gaélique écossais” École Argyle Secondary (1st Place)

Shana Edalat Grade 10 Francophone “Mon père” École Handsworth Secondary (2nd Place)

Visit for the full list of winners.

Congratulations! Félicitations à vous tous! Chapeau!

Stéphanie Weller


BC Youth Week – May 1 to May 7

This week youth across the province are celebrated and recognized for the contributions they make in their communities. Events in North Vancouver included pizza lunch, swimming, and CityFest on May 2nd, which was very well-attended. Students in our district benefited from the generosity of the Youth Week sponsors and I would like to thank the BC Youth Week Committee for organizing this year’s events.


As part of Youth Week, the City and District of North Vancouver held their awards ceremonies this week to recognize recipients of the 2015 Civic Youth Awards. Many of our students and staff were recognized and will be highlighted in a separate post.


Queen Mary awarded Heritage Project Achievement Award by CNV

Capital Projects Manager Mark Thomson and Principal Bill Reid accepted the Heritage Project Achievement Award for Queen Mary Elementary School, at the City of North Vancouver’s Council Meeting on February 16th.

Awarded by the CNV Heritage Advisory Commission, North Vancouver School District was recognized for its outstanding restoration and reconstruction of Queen Mary which completed in 2014.

This is the second heritage award we have received for Queen Mary Elementary School and we are honoured to receive such high praise for the project. Congratulations to Mark Thomson and our Facilities and Planning Department for the exceptional work on one of the City’s most notable and historic landmarks. Queen Mary students and staff now have a beautiful learning environment that is also seismically sound.

Heritage Award 2015 - Queen Mary School

I look forward to attending Queen Mary’s Centennial Celebration on May 22nd. If you have stories, photos or memories to share, please contact the Queen Mary Centennial Celebration Planning Committee ( or visit:

NS News Readers Choice Awards 2015 – Artists for Kids

Post provided by Yolande Martinello:

It’s a privilege to be recognized by the community as their choice for Educational Programs for Kids. We work hard to make exceptional art experiences available to students throughout the community. Programming includes after school, weekends in the gallery, spring and summer day camps and our Paradise Valley Summer School of Visual Arts.

Artists for Kids, a non-profit-organization based in North Vancouver, exists to support the legacy of art. By bringing together Canadian artists with students, we create fun, memorable, hands-on experiences that kids cherish. In this way, we help the next generation of artists thrive.

Artists for Kids is unique in that through the sale of prints, we are able to fully fund our school-based enrichment programs. Through Artists for Kids, artists share their insight, talents and stories with the next generation; kids are able to explore their own talents and develop their own creative problem-solving skills; and we all benefit from the ongoing legacy of Canadian art.

AFK Readers Choice


Child & Youth Mental Health Day – May 7

Today is Child and Youth Mental Health Day, led by the Institute of Families in cooperation with partners across the country.

It is a day of national awareness and appreciation for the struggles our youth and their families must face when coping with mental health.  Removing the stigma associated with mental health is a key issue for our youth today who are finding it difficult to seek the help they need.

Understanding these obstacles and identifying the barriers to learning is part of how we support youth with mental health within our school communities. Our role is to help build resiliency and give youth the tools they need to build a positive school culture that fosters a sense of belonging and a feeling of connectedness to school and peers.

FamilySmart seeks to help create public awareness and acknowledgement of the thousands of children, youth and families needing mental health support and care across Canada. 


For more information, visit their website:


Emergency Preparedness Week is May 3 – 9, 2015

This week is National Emergency Preparedness Week and schools are reviewing emergency procedures and preparing to Drop, Cover, and Hold On for the Big One at One Earthquake Drill on May 8th.


Bernadette Woit, of the North Shore Emergency Management Office is working with schools to assist with our emergency drills and preparedness education. Last year the NSEMO worked with our school district in a review of our emergency management and created a new “All Hazards” resource binder for schools. Having this information including school Emergency Response Plans at your fingertips is another step towards being prepared.

Resources for Emergency Preparedness Week can be found at

Emergency Preparedness Week

The District of North Vancouver recently released results of a comprehensive risk assessment study on the impacts of a major earthquake in our community. The detailed technical report can be found on the DNV website:

While we are still in the process of seismically upgrading our schools, the majority of buildings in our school district are expected to sustain little damage in the event of an earthquake, according to the report and the DNV plain language companion document:

District Dance Festival

This year’s District Dance Festival took place on April 9th at Centennial Theatre. Thirty-one intermediate and secondary school groups performed a variety of dances, such as jazz, hip hop and musical theatre.

Lots of work is happening leading up to the festival…music selection, choreograpahy, and practicing – big thanks to the teachers for their hard work, encouragement, and support of the student performances. The District Dance Festival is a highlight and we thank all the students for their participation.

I would like to recognize Margaret Inglis and Michele Denny for coordinating all the groups and working behind the scenes to make this such a successful event for our school district.