Last April, Nootka students and staff participated in their first bannock breakfast. It was such a success that early in this school year they expanded the event into a day of awareness and learning.
This year's Gathering Day began early in the morning. Students, parents, teachers and community members arrived in the auditorium to share in homemade bannock, jam, and honey. Dozens of loaves of baked bannock were made for the event by Nootka Aboriginal Enhancement Worker Dena Galay and her mother Kathie Galay.
Student leaders MC'd events including the bannock breakfast and a school wide dance and song assembly to close the day.
The Nootka community also learned from Elder Lorelei Hawkins about her traditional background and about residential schools. One teacher at Nootka commented, "Lorelei, the visiting Elder, had such a gentle way of talking with the kids. She was able to give facts and historical information and be very engaging and emotional at the same time".
The day offered staff an opportunity to engage students and parents in a unique way. As one parent said, "It was a wonderful opportunity to share and celebrate and it didn't feel like it was just for one day - it was a way to see our whole community."
Over the course of the day students participated in the erecting of a real teepee, story telling, traditional dance and song, and the history and importance of the canoe.
"Our message is we want to support cultural enhancement without tokenism. We are making these cultural discussions part of everyday learning at the school," says Nootka vice-principal Laura Rhead. "This Gathering Day event will simply start conversations or deepen the learning that is already happening."
The success of the event has Nootka staff already planning for the next bannock breakfast in January 2014.
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