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GEC Students celebrate learning with xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Musqueam-influenced art in Memorial Park

| Categories: Arts, Indigenous, Programs, Arts, Indigenous, Programs
Student artwork on display in Memorial Park

Students from the Gifted Enrichment Centre’s (GEC) STEAM cohort completed their course by showing off their creative works to family and caregivers on May 12, 2023, at Vancouver’s Memorial Park. During the course, educators had invited xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) artist Rita Kompst to work with the students over several days to teach them about wool dyeing and textile weaving. She spoke about the connection between people and the land around them. The students took nature walks, collected natural plants to dye their wool, and worked with Kompst to producwoven pieces of art.  


Kompst taught the students about traditional weaving practices. She let the students come up with their own designs on graph paper, and the entire class worked together to create a group weaving project. 


“It’s so important in this day and age for our childrento connect and be out with nature and to spend time learning that nature is a gift to us,” Kompst said. She praised the effort of the students and grew emotional when talking about their achievements. “My hands are raised to the children for an amazing job done.” 


The students also enjoyed their time in the park with KompstKshreya, Grade 4 from Nootka Elementary, enjoyed learning about plants and the cultural aspect of Indigenous weaving.  


“My favourite part was weaving, and my loom was right next to Rita, so she was telling me tips of how to do it and that was really fun,” Kshreya said. 


In addition to working with Kompst to create woven art, the students also spent a portion of the GEC course with science teacher Kate Gregory. She took them through Memorial Park to observe local plant and animal wildlife. The students each shared their own presentations about the park, the pond, and the nature around it. These covered topics ranged from the history of the park, the ecosystems found in the pond, and the impact of erosion on the environment. 


“Science is all about observing and asking your own questions, and that’s what we did,” Gregory said to the invited family and loved ones. “It changed our perspective, it changed our relations with this land, it changed the stories that we tell.” 


Gregory led reflection activities with the students, asking about their feelings when they first started visiting the pond and how they felt about it by the end of the course. At first, the students said it was a random pond and tourist attraction, but after the five weeks they said it was a home and an ecosystem to be taken care of. 


This course was one of the courses offered through the District’s Gifted Enrichment Centres, which provide multi-week programs focused on one topic. The GECs include project-based learning, field studies and provide opportunities for students to present and share their new learning with others. The GECs are designed for students with demonstrated ability and an articulated desire to engage in deeper learning about a given area. Any student from Grade 4 to 7 can be referred by their school team; self-referrals and parent referrals are also considered, with school team support. This is the first pilot year for the GECs, which replaced the District’s Multi Age Cluster Classes.  

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