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Beyond National Indigenous History Month

In addition to the ongoing work happening across the District, many schools are having an extra focus on Indigenous learning throughout National Indigenous History Month.

Led by Elder Doctor Roberta Price from the Coast Salish Territory of Snuneymuxw and Cowichan Nations, a special ceremony following Indigenous Protocol was hosted at Westridge Elementary. The gathering was to honour the work of students that resulted in a partnership with the City of Burnaby to create the first-ever Reconciliation Crosswalk in Burnaby. Trustees, the Mayor of Burnaby, City Councillors, the Superintendent and additional dignitaries joined the school community for the celebration. Younger students were present to witness, share the learnings, and carry the story and reconciliation work forward at the school. The Coast Salish artist and crosswalk designer Athena Picha, who worked with the students on the design, was also acknowledged at the event. Learn more about the crosswalk here.

Indigenous Education opportunities occur throughout the school year. What follows are just some examples from the month of May.

Students, school and District staff witnessed a ceremony at Burnaby North Secondary by Master Carver and Squamish Nation Elder Xwalacktun to wake up the Welcome Post, which will be installed when the new school is completed. The carving was done over many months, with the ideas for the design coming from a collaboration between the school community and Elder Xwalacktun. Students and staff carved together with Elder Xwalacktun, as he shared stories, teachings about culture and Indigenous learnings. Read more here.

Indigenous youth from across the District and their families were invited to a drum-making session held as part of the District’s partnership in the Burnaby Festival of Learning. Led by Squamish Nation Elder Alroy Baker, those gathered for the session explored how drums are symbolic for creating a lifelong connection to and relationship with all living things.

Students at Gilmore Community School are among those who created personal land acknowledgements, recognizing Coast Salish people and their unceded territory. At Alpha Secondary, the drama studio now has a student-created land acknowledgement in a permanent place of prominence.

Red dresses hung along a walking route at Burnaby Mountain Secondary, marking the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People. Juanita Desjarlais, a committee member for the Women’s Memorial March, shared some words to begin the walk. Opportunities for reflection and learning were also had at Burnaby North and South secondary schools.

The District also observed Moose Hide Day, a campaign to end violence against women and children.

Student voices were at the centre of a District-wide Secondary Indigenous Youth Gathering. The day included guidance from Elder Alroy Baker and Elder Doctor Roberta Price, community building, gathering students’ feedback, as well as honouring identity through art and song.


Posted June 2023