recent news

Sights and Sounds: Indigenous Culture and Teachings

Several schools unveiled Indigenous art and other projects in June that were created over many months in the spirit of reconciliation.

The projects provide students and the broader school community with an opportunity for awareness, sharing, and learning about Indigenous teachings and culture.

Learn more about the lasting legacy of the projects in the examples shared below.

This large-scale window art was installed prominently above the entrance doors at Burnaby Mountain Secondary.

It was created under the guidance of artist Trenton (Rain) Pierre from the Katzie First Nation with Studio Arts students in Grades 10 to 12. The artist shared cultural teachings and students collaborated with him while exploring their school’s values and beliefs through art. After seeking permission, the word “welcome” is included in both the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh languages, as well as in English and French.

The display symbolizes for all who enter the strength of the school’s commitment to reconciliation and offers both a warm welcome to everyone and meaningful acknowledgement of the Coast Salish land on which it stands.

These banners were made under the guidance of Squamish Elder Latash Nahanee by students in the Graphics & Media Arts program held at Byrne Creek Community School.

Elder Latash, who is also a renowned artist, joined the class by Zoom multiple times, sharing cultural teachings, ideas, and feedback.

The City of Burnaby is showcasing the banners in several places, including beside City Hall.

The Graphics & Media Arts program attracts high school students from throughout the District and provides opportunities for career exploration. The students whose work was chosen for display received a printed banner of their artwork for their personal portfolios.

Clinton Elementary also worked with Trenton (Rain) Pierre from the Katzie First Nation. An unveiling ceremony and virtual assembly were held this month for both the art and the school’s new Indigenous garden.

The work on the art installation began during the 2019-20 school year. To support the learning and discussion at the time, students worked on reflection sheets with a truth and reconciliation lens. The artist incorporated several of those sheets, including into the wings of the raven, as part of his vision of Indigenous culture and student voice joining together.

At the June virtual assembly where the unveiling took place, Elder Roberta Price from the Coast Salish Territory of Snuneymuxw and Cowichan Nations provided a welcome and shared her wisdom with the students and entire school community.

Students at Confederation Park Elementary got a chance to see the whole impact of their “Project of Heart” when it was unveiled the last full week of school.

Each child created a tile to remember and honour those affected by the residential school system.

The finished art installation is displayed as a symbol of the school’s commitment to reconciliation.

Indigenous youth leaders at Burnaby South Secondary and the BC Provincial School for the Deaf performed the “Song for Courage” to recognize the important transitions of high school graduation and students moving from Grade 7 to secondary school.

The song was originally written in 2017 as a gift to the District – for Grade 7 students transitioning to high school – by Sherryl Sewepagaham, a Cree-Dene artist from the Little Red River Cree Nation.

Elder Latash Nahanee of the Squamish Nation suggested that the song would have great meaning for all youth in Burnaby. He also provided drum protocol and teachings to the students – Joseph, Angel, Chloe, Lucien, and Jonas – who performed it this year. The students had additional guidance from Indigenous Youth Support Worker Gena Sanderson, and Indigenous Success Teacher Matthew Mitchell.

Watch the powerful performance, which was also shared as part of Drums Across Kanata on National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Burnaby Schools honours and celebrates the strength of Indigenous Culture and the contributions of Indigenous People, on National Indigenous Peoples Day, during National Indigenous History Month and beyond.

Learn More About How Schools Have Found New Ways to Share Indigenous Learnings During the Pandemic

Read About a School’s Connection to Indigenous Culture Supported by Hands-On Drum Project


Posted June 2021