This week in the Learning Commons we have been celebrating Indigenous culture, sharing authentic Indigenous stories and some classes have discussed the impact of Residential Schools. Our goal was community building, with each student creating a link in a chain to represent how we are all connected and support each other.
Classes have been labelled with room numbers as division numbers may change year to year.
Other rooms read ‘You are all welcome’.
This video was created in the Learning Commons. It was narrated by Grade K/1 in celebration of our First Peoples in Residence week at Martha Currie and in acknowledgement of Pink Shirt Day.
Students in Mme. St.James’ class have been learnng about all of the dfferent ways the South Coast Salish Peoples used the Western Red Cedar and why it was called ‘The Tree of Life’. We focused on the patterns used on the baskets and were inspired by traditional designs to create our own baskets. We filled the baskets with a representation of the soft inner bark of the Yellow Cedar that was used for bedding and hung the baskets on our cedar tree.
Students in Mr. Gauvin’s Grade 4/5 class were encouraged to apply what they had learned about Coast Salish long house design to creating a much larger model in the Learning Commons. The students worked in teams with each group having different responsibilities. As the project progressed, students shifted teams so they could try different aspects of the building. It was a great success.
One team was solely responsible for cutting of tape ready to use. This made the process a lot smoother and helped prevent lost tape ends. Another team made the support poles with rolled paper and rafia.
Boxes of discarded books waiting for disposal were used as corner supports.
‘Smoke’ was added to the central post.
We did not have any good cutting tools so the cardboard was used as is.
Several classes have been working on creating these detailed Salish Long House models. After learning about the design, students were assigned individual tasks that would contribute to the whole. For example, one class contributed side panels, and another made roof panels or added entranceways. Some classes added the supporting poles with the ‘cedar’ twine and slowly the houses came together. The final class added the landscaping.
Building the roof panels.
Back and side panels.
Support poles (recycled chopsticks and raffia)
Classes have been learning about the architecture of South Coast Salish Plank Houses. We learned about the structure and the style and purposes of the long houses. To show their learning, students built small individual buildings and then worked cooperatively to create larger structures.
Students have been learning about some of the many ways the Coast Salish Peoples use the Western Red Cedar tree. We learned how the bark is removed from the tree and can be used for weaving. Students wove their own ‘cedar’ mat which we hung on our representative Western Red Cedar tree. (We used raffia and hung it on our Emerald Cedar tree.)
This week we invited parents and guardians to an appreciation tea held in the Learning Commons. We celebrated our work with The Salmon Run by Clayton Gauthier with a video showing how we completed our project. We decorated the tables with vases of salmon perched in pebbles and colourful salmon art and, coordinated our tables and table cloths to match the red and blue of Mr. Gauthier’s art.
Students who were sharing a bhangra dance at the school variety show were also invited to perform for our guests.
Ms. Perry’s class created some wonderful clay salmon inspired by Mr. Gauthier’s art. Check them out in the hallway display case.
Many thanks to Clayton Gauthier – Cree/Dakelh Artist who kindly gave us permission to draw inspiration from his wonderful book The Salmon Run.
We are so proud of this collaborative Learning Commons project which included every student at our school. Everyone was able to participate in different ways, from design, sanding, drilling and painting. It was an entirely inclusive project.
Each division looked at the life cycle of the salmon from an Indigenous Perspective and discussed Clayton Gauthier’s powerful images about showing true colours, persevering in the face of struggles, following your heart, honouring your ancestors, protecting the environment and the interconnectedness of life. Safety First from Kindergarten to Grade 7: Sanding the wood and drilling the holes. Thanks to Brian Newbold for the jigs. The painters each did one part of a salmon and were totally engaged in this cooperative, communal project. Over 500 students made 100 fish.The project took one full month to complete, including our discussions and developing an understanding of the perspectives of The Salmon Run. This involved scheduling entire classes as well as small groups into the Learning Commons. The space was taken over by tarps, newspaper, wood and paint cans for the duration of the activity. Our next step is to celebrate this Indigenous project with the school community. We will be hosting a parent tea with The Salmon Run theme and showing a video of images from our learning.
For next time I would remember: Outdoor paint goes a long way – don’t buy too much. Match the drill holes better to the size of the wire. Get very fine sandpaper for the exuberant sanders. Don’t worry about the carpet – we didn’t spill one bit of paint, not one! Regular sweeping keeps the sawdust under control. Wash the brushes immediately. Buy better quality brushes. Most importantly, just jump right in.
Clayton Gauthier. Dakelh translation by Francois Prince.
Penticton, BC: Theytus Books, 2016.
20 pp., stapled pbk., $9.95.
Click image for CM Magazine review.