Learning and Unlearning: Truth and Reconciliation Week at the District
Staff, students, guests and families gathered throughout Truth and Reconciliation Week listening and holding space. Here are just some of the events that happened throughout the District.
Carving Unveilings with Xwalacktun
Tuesday, September 26, 2023, administrators from Strathcona Elementary along with invited guests including, Chief Jen Thomas of Tsleil-Waututh Nation gathered as witnesses. Strathcona Principal Jann Schmidt spoke with the assembly, and Squamish and Kwakwaka’wakw master carver Xwalacktun entered the ceremony to drumming from Squamish performer Willie Lewis. Lewis led guests in blessing Xwalacktun and his carving, brushing the artwork and artist with cedar boughs and chanting to awaken the spirits resting within both.
“We're here doing good work to uplift this house in the Strathcona Elementary. The kids all had part in taking some wood off, they can say to themselves: I carved that. Yes, they did help carve it, and they're going to go away with experience, saying, I took part in that.”
– Xwalacktun, Squamish and Kwakwaka’wakw master carver
Vancouver Technical Secondary
On September 27, 2023, Vancouver Technical Secondary hosted a ceremony honouring Xwalacktun. It was a momentous event that brought together the school community and neighbouring elementary schools. It was organized to celebrate Xwalacktun's exceptional contributions as an artist, teacher, and role model. The ceremony took place outside the school's front entrance, which has been transformed by Xwalacktun's artwork. The unveiling and awakening of the artwork was witnessed by community leaders from the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.
“As a high school principal, I am grateful for the opportunity to have witnessed the transformation of our school entrance into a work of art that symbolizes our commitment to our community's history, present, and future.”
– Roberto Moro, Principal
Reconciliation Day at the District Office
The Indigenous Education department at the District hosted a Reconciliation Day gathering for District Staff. Musqueam member, Morgan Guerin, welcomed the group of staff on Friday, September 29, 2023, at the Education Centre. Guerin shared teachings of why truth is crucial for reconciliation and emphasized how the journey to reconciliation is long, but we are part of the generation that says never again. Indigenous Education staff grounded the room in how recent the residential school system was and told personal stories of how the residential school system has affected their relations. The Stogan family shared their own experiences and cleansed staff with cedar brushing to rid negativity and move forward in a more open way.
“We have to plant the trees of reconciliation knowing we will never see the shade of them.”
- Musqueam Member. Morgan Guerin