Aboriginal art project leaves legacy

Schools & Students

A project that created 13 beautiful pieces of Aboriginal art for schools around Vancouver was celebrated at the latest meeting of Vancouver School Board.

Funded through grants from the district’s Aboriginal Education department, the Canada 150+ Cedar Carving project gave students an opportunity to learn about Indigenous culture. Chantelle Dass and Stephanie Tamkee, two students from Captain James Cook Elementary, attended the meeting to talk about a paddle carved for the school by Randy Tait of the Nisga'a Nation.

Dass says they learned about Aboriginal Nations of the west coast throughout last year in their Grade 5/6 class. She says they researched and made sculptures and traditional tools, learned about traditional Aboriginal government, and read widely about Aboriginal culture, stories and history.

“The paddle project was cool because the whole school was involved from kindergarten to Grade 7,” she adds. “The paddle will be in our school to remind us about Aboriginal cultures for years to come.”

Tamkee says their class was invited to a ceremony to celebrate completion of the paddle, where Tait talked about his heritage and the carvings on the paddle. She says Tait did a Breath of Life ceremony where he drummed and sang songs to bring life to the paddle.

“I learned a lot about Aboriginal traditions during this ceremony,” says Tamkee. “I feel lucky that our school has this paddle because it is beautiful and brings positive energy to our school.”

David Lloyd George, Grandview, Kerrisdale, Lord Selkirk, Sir Sandford Fleming, Sir William Osler, Southlands, Thunderbird, Tyee and Queen Alexandra elementary schools also took part in carving project, as did Sir Charles Tupper and University Hill secondary schools.

The Canada 150+ Cedar Carving Project was a partnership with the City of Vancouver on the theme of 'moving forward together', says Chas Desjarlais, district vice-principal of Aboriginal Education. The artworks created through the project were displayed in Larwill Park this summer.

“It was an amazing opportunity for students to connect with local Indigenous artists and really begin to understand their connection to reconciliation,” she adds. “The beauty of them was our students got to participate in the project, but also these are legacy pieces that will stay in school.”

Canada 150+ Cedar Carving Project