In October and November, SD27 staff had the opportunity to take part in a cross-cultural workshop presented by elders and knowledge keepers at Esk’etemc.

The workshop was called, “A First Step in Esk’etemc Cultural Awareness”. Although held at different locations within the territory, the Friday morning sessions focused on intergenerational trauma and its implications for Indigenous people within the contemporary education system. Dave Belleau recounted his experiences from residential school, as well as the journey he took afterward on his way to healing himself and others who survived traumatic experiences in their youth. After Dave’s presentation, participants made their way around the circle, introducing themselves and sharing their ethnicity and cultural backgrounds before having lunch together.

During the sessions, Freddie Johnson Sr. shared the protocols and the spiritual significance of the traditional sweat ceremony. Participants then had the opportunity to experience the sweat first-hand. Although it was an introductory sweat (around an hour in length as opposed to three hours), it gave the participants the chance to appreciate the ceremony’s importance to the Secwepemc people.

On Saturday, Kukpi7 Fred Robbins led a land tour of historically significant landmarks and various sites, allowing participants to understand the current land claims the Esk’etemc are pursuing. These areas contained unmarked graves, former pit house depressions, and an airport that was built without consultation. The journey ended with a smudge ceremony back at the Sxoxomic School.Over the course of the two days, participants had the chance to feel a connection to the land, the learning, and the people they were learning with. The elders and knowledge keepers shared their expertise in a kind and caring way. It was a positive first step toward a vision Kukpi7 Fred Robbins has had for years, where SD27 staff seek out the knowledge that is available on the traditional territories where our schools are located and where his community’s youth attend. Co-planners; Calvin Dubray – Esk’etemc Education Director, Ryan Hanley – CCTA Pro-d Rep., and Nara Riplinger – Columneetza teacher, were happy to have the opportunity to work with Kukpi7 Fred Robbins in taking this first step forward. We are looking forward to seeing the next group of educators for sharing, learning and understanding. The hope is that with this shared learning, educators of SD 27 can transfer this knowledge back to the students as we pave a path for future generations of authentic Truth and Reconciliation.

This story has been reproduced with permission from School District 27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin). The original posting can be found here.