On their first professional development day of the school year, Tecumseh Elementary teachers headed out into the torrential rain and met in North Vancouver for a day of learning about the indigenous culture, tradition and history of the Tsleil Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam First Nations.
At the start of the school year, Tecumseh Elementary adopted the following Aboriginal Cultural Enhancement goal: To increase knowledge, acceptance, empathy, awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal histories, traditions, cultures and contributions among all students.
Tanaka Tours, a First Nation owned eco-tourism venture, guided staff in a number of activities. One group of teachers headed out into Burrard Inlet / Indian Arm on the 25 foot traditional ocean-going canoe. They learned about the marine coastline, the specific purpose of the many ancient village sites and the challenges of using the canoe as a main form of transportation in the temperate rainforest. Teachers also witnessed traditional drumming, songs and stories.
The second group headed out on an ancestral walking tour through Whey-ah-Wichen aka Cates Park.
"Staff worked through a rubric to discuss possible directions and actions for our goal," said Tecumseh vice principal Carrie Froese. "We discussed the importance of asking questions to focus our learning journey. Then we had the opportunity to go through the many Aboriginal resources that had been pulled together from our school library. The day served to be the beginning of a discussion that will continue throughout this school year and years to come."
In the afternoon, stories of The Walk for Truth and Reconciliation and discussion of the speech by Rev. Bernice King (Rev. Martin Luther King's daughter) provided inspiration and food for thought.