The district’s Indigenous Education Program has joined together with Elders, other leaders and educators to find new ways to share Indigenous learnings and culture during the pandemic. What follows are some examples of the creative ways Indigenous teachings are being shared both outside and virtually.
Students Connect Virtually with Elder Latash
Alpha and Burnaby North Secondary students got together virtually for an Indigenous learning project under the guidance of Squamish Elder and artist Latash Nahanee. Students designed and carved their own individual eagles in wood.
Elder Latash also led North students in drumming and song. He taught them about waking up their “menahtsa” (drum) before beginning the “slolem” (song). The students used drum sticks that they made themselves – a project led by Indigenous Enhancement Teacher Mary Hotomanie. District Principal of Indigenous Education, Rob Smyth, shared stories with the students.
Reconciliation Through a Project of Heart
Students from South Slope Elementary and the BC School for the Deaf came together initially in the Fall, with health and safety protocols in place, to learn about reconciliation with members of the Tla’amin Nation. They met outdoors with Indigenous community leader Laura Ward, who is also the Chair of the District Parent Advisory Council – along with her daughter Hailey Ward, a Grade 8 student at École Cariboo Secondary. Students learned about the devastation of the residential school system.
After reflection and meaningful classroom discussion, they went to work on a reconciliation project in the form of a mural. Each student created a tile of hope and love for survivors. The finished art was installed in January and is displayed at the school as a symbol of their commitment to reconciliation.
Indigenous Teachings Shared Virtually With Families
A unique and meaningful community gathering saw a small group of Windsor Elementary students and their families connecting virtually just before Winter Break. Eight Indigenous students took home specially prepared packages that included strips of wood to make a cedar rose.
Tsawaysia Spukwus – also known as Alice Guss – from the Squamish Nation, shared her cedar teachings with the families who gathered together with her online.
Afterward, Destiny Willier, a Grade 3 student, proudly shared with her classmates the cedar teachings she learned by leading them through the making of their own cedar rose. Her classroom teacher commented that Destiny showed a lot of confidence and did a fantastic job.
This story has been reproduced with permission from School District 41 (Burnaby). The original posting can be found here.