Our community aspires to build with local Indigenous Peoples a relationship where their people and culture are present in our communal life in ways that are authentic, visible, respectful, and integrated. We want our approach to reflect the living nature of our local communities, along with the highest understanding of what it means to be a good neighbour.
Murray Sinclair, retired senator and chair of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, makes clear that reconciliation will be the work of generations. As we share details about events happening over the next few weeks, we’re cognizant of the distance we need to travel. As a school, we’ve committed ourselves to becoming good neighbours to our local community. This entails challenging our own understandings and ways of being as we open ourselves to new possibilities.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
When the federal government declared National Day for Truth and Reconciliation for September 30, we needed to discern our response as a school. As has been our pattern, we turned to our Indigenous Guide, Bill White (Coast Salish), who affirmed our desire to fully embrace the intent of the day. When talking about what might make it meaningful, he identified with us two opportunities:
- an opportunity for the students and staff of each division to gather for a ceremony; and
- an opportunity to build on our cultural literacy as a faculty.
To these ends, the morning of Thursday, September 30 will include ceremonies similar to those for Orange Shirt Day in the past. While the Junior and Middle School gatherings will be student-driven, Senior School students will hear an address by Kim Recalma-Clutesi (Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw), a highly respected figure in the traditional community.
When students are released for the afternoon, Ms. Recalma-Clutesi will work directly with our faculty, building on the locally developed Indigenous Cultural Literacy course already undertaken by all of our staff. Of course, the eminent Bill White will continue to offer a guiding hand as we make our plans.
Spindle Whorls Welcome Ceremony
On October 7, all students from Grades 4-12 will gather on the Richmond Road campus for our Spindle Whorls Welcome Ceremony.
As an art form, Spindle Whorls are closely tied to the Coast Salish. Carved in red and yellow cedar by our Indigenous Scholar, Dylan Thomas (Coast Salish), our Spindle Whorls depict local stories that express the core Values of our school: respect, courage, honesty, and service. A Spindle Whorl will be placed in the Chapel and in the entrance at each of our schools.
Reflecting traditional understanding that such pieces are living, the Spindle Whorls will be rotated four times a year, according to local seasons and accompanied by protocol. The welcome ceremony itself will reflect traditional Coast Salish values and approaches as we bear witness to the arrival of these culturally significant pieces through word and song.
Our hope is that how we approach the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and our Spindle Whorls Welcome Ceremony will stand as overt expressions of our commitment to be good neighbours. At the same time, we recognize that they represent no more than the beginning steps of this journey, a work of generations. We are grateful to those from the local community who are walking with us as we find our way.