Monthly Archives: August 2012

Living a Legacy…

Young people are profoundly influenced by the people in their lives and and especially by what they learn early in life and teachers are often the people most involved in children’s early learning, sometimes as much or even more than parents or guardians. Most of us can think of one person, usually a teacher who has profoundly impacted us in one way or another. For me, there were two teachers, one in grade seven and another in grade eleven. Their names escape me but their faces and their words remain with me as these teachers inspired me to move toward my goals and to pursue my interests despite the obstacles and there were many obstacles along the way! My grade seven teacher saw me for my potential and everything she said and did confirmed this for me until I realized that going to university was a given and part of the path that I would take in life. The other teacher brought her passion for literature and classical music into her English 11 class and I was hooked for life. I had grown up listening to old time jazz and big band, but never classical and I was so incredibly overwhelmed that I recall going to my locker and being unable to remember my lock combination to get into my locker. Today, my career as an educator  and my love of classical music are part of my life and two classroom teachers brought them alive for me.

Imparting knowledge is not necessarily the most important thing teachers do. Teachers in classrooms and within families or communities can inspire students – inspire them to see themselves in ways that can lead to life goals and enriched lives. Teachers can inspire students to see the potential in themselves; to see the goodness in themselves, in others, and in the world around them. Many young activists have been nurtured by teachers in their lives. 10-year old Ta’Kaiya says ‘Protect our coast from oil spills’ discovered her passion and by age 11, has impacted the world through her public performances and her youtube presentations which shows her concern for the environment and the preservation of marine and coastal wildlife. A young Heiltsuk man has no doubt inspired many people within and beyond his community. His testimony at a hearing about proposed tanker traffic near Bella Bella touched the hearts and minds of people both within and beyond the community. William Housty may not even be aware that his youtube posting is being used in English First Peoples 10 – 12 classrooms across BC. At the Koeye camp in August, I was as deeply moved by a young man who is obviously being mentored by William. In the Heiltsuk language, he spoke as powerfully as any elder as he gave the historical background and meaning for each of the dances that the children performed. The culture is in good hands in this community and these two young men can attest to that.

The Bella Bella community has a strong and abiding legacy about its commitment to the education of the children. An early NFB film illustrates the commitment of a few people who had a vision for the community. They wanted to build a school so that children would no longer have to leave the community to attend high school and they wanted to hire their own teachers and ensure that the curriculum reflected not only the British Columbia ministry guidelines, but the richness of the Heiltsuk culture. Bella Bella is a wonderful film to watch to learn about the history of BBCS and to hear the language being spoken by elders who left behind a legacy for others. 37 years later in 2012, the Bella Community School is a thriving school with an ongoing commitment to maintain and strengthen our caring and compassionate learning environment while staying closely connected to the traditions and values of the Heitsuk people – a place where students may develop to their fullest potential.

FNESC and FNSA, First Nations Steering Committee and the First Nations Schools Association are our supports as we go about our daily work with the children in our school and classrooms. One of the videos they produced (Vimeo) captures the essence of why many of us are involved with Aboriginal education. Take 27 seconds(and create a login) to watch this short clip, Why We Care About Aboriginal Education and ask yourself or engage in a conversation to unpack why it is you care deeply about the education of First Nations children and what your “hidden agenda” may be. What made a difference for you and how does that emerge in your classroom curricula.  My motive for returning home to Bella Bella is clear – I care deeply about the education of Aboriginal children and want to make a difference.

I was born in Lillooet BC and was raised in Bella Bella during my childhood whereupon I was sent away by Indian Affairs to attend high school. I stayed on to attend university, to pursue a career, and to raise a family. I came home for two years with my husband and three children and left to pursue an adventure until we finally settled in Chilliwack in 1994. In August of 2012, we sold our house and my car and returned to Bella Bella sans children as they are all grown up and live far away from us. I longed for the opportunity to become part of a “community” and to live a simpler life without a daily one hour commute each way! I longed to be in a position where it is possible to see what “making a difference” looks like with smaller classes and a smaller staff who live “in” the same community as the children. This is all possible in Bella Bella and I look forward to working with a dedicated staff of colleagues and community members as part of a voyage along a path that includes some new and many seasoned and caring veteran teachers and community members.

After three days at a short course for principals and a great session with Dylan Wiliam, I am excited about the new school year and know that we will be deep into the culture of teaching and learning very soon.

“A dedicated teacher is a valuable messenger from the past and can be an escort to your life”  Einsten

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At Home in Bella Bella…

Maybe it is still the honeymoon period, but I LOVE it here!!! I have driven about 50 km since I got here – half of my daily one-way commute to Surrey that I did every day! The people have welcomed me so graciously and sincerely. I think I have gained about 10 pounds in two weeks – people want to make sure I eat and (wamoutla sp?) take food home and it’s not polite to say no!!! You know what I mean.

It has been a lot of work making the move and I miss having my own house but we’ll make it work in a much smaller house.  It’s actually a teacherage and quite well maintained. There are thing I would like to run to the store and buy on the spur of the moment, but it isn’t that simple.  Not everything is available or it has a very high price tag attached.  For example, a container of mayonnaise made with Olive Oil is $10.99, but rib eye steak is very reasonable. Milk comes in twice a week so we need to get down there to make sure we get some as the shelf life is somewhat shorter than what we are used to.  Vic makes our yogurt so we need lots of milk to satisfy our daily yogurt intake. I have also started making home made bread again and have made two batches.  The second batch is much better so practice is truly important! Also, has become my most visited site and they are making good profits from me  – I have had to order stuff that I didn’t think we needed and either sold it very cheap or gave away! We will pick up my Sears order in Shearwater which is across the channel – lucky we have a boat! I ordered a deck umbrella, a vacuum, a shelving unit etc… The old Sears bill will be hefty this month!

I need cup hooks but I will need to buy them in Van when I fly down on Sat for 5 days! I am taking the short course for principals as the startup to the school year. I have a list of things to pick up on my ipad including buying chicken as all the chicken that I have found is frozen and breaded and so my return suitcase will be filled with frozen chicken. If anyone visits you must bring chicken and pork!!! I also need to have my overused camera serviced!

There is so much to photograph here as you have surmised from looking at my Facebook photos!  I do need to leave Eddy at home and take my tripod in order to get some great eagle photos.  I also have to keep Eddy (my 16 pound) Chihuahua on a leash as a colleague told me that she watched an eagle swoop down and carry off a poor woman’s small dog just as she let it off the leash on the dock… She was of course out of her mind but could do nothing! I can’t imagine her trauma and the dog’s of course! Eddy is not going off on his own even if he thinks he is invincible! (Good scrabble word that I need to file away – I need to withdraw from playing scrabble online)

I am setting up my office this afternoon and will return to do startup stuff next Thurs once I return from Van.  Alas, I will have to adjust to using a PC, as the school is strictly a PC school.  I do have my ipad though  – I bought it for myself for my Aug 1 birthday as I thought I simply couldn’t function without one.  I have all these apps I need to try out!

Surrey seems so long ago – I enjoyed it and am glad I had that experience. It was a very good experience and preparation for my current position– my highly talented colleagues and the pro d opportunities were the highlights! I will remain friends for life with some of the people that I met there. Maybe some will be willing to come here to provide inservice!

Vic and I, as you may have read from my Facebook postings and photos spent a day at Koeye, a children’s cultural camp. We were truly amazed and moved to tears at what we witnessed – a sincere commitment to bringing together cultural knowledge and outdoor awareness.  This has to be part of their life at school as an extension of their ancestral heritage and modern day identity.  Please visit this site if you get a chance.  I learned that in our language the word “Heiltsuk” means to speak and act correctly and that we are guided by this and other basic Heiltsuk values, which we call our gvi’ilas.  I have a steep learning curve ahead of me culturally as I have been away for so long, but I am up for it!

My dad lives here so we have seen him often – he loves Eddy and is able to get out for short walks with us. I may pick him up to go to the feast this evening…. It’s nice to hear him speak the Heiltsuk language; actually it is wonderful to hear it being spoken with such fluency.  Vic and I were so impressed by a young man who explained the dances at the Children’s feast in Koeye.  The Heiltsuk language is difficult but it flowed off his tongue. I may actually take the beginner course when it is offered.

Vic is off on a two-day kayak adventure by himself so Eddy and I are alone.  He headed up to Hunter Channel and is planning to camp for two nights. I am still recovering from fatigue and a bad cold sore on my mouth and I need to get some more work done so Eddy and I stayed behind.

Luckily all of our stuff arrived ahead of us and if we are missing anything, we will never know as we simply have too much stuff for this 3-bedroom house.  We haven’t had time to pine for Chilliwack, as we have been so busy.  Having a boat is a must here! The weather has been spectactular!

A few days ago we went out trawling and caught three good-sized Cohos that we promptly froze.  We also have lots of sockeye in our freezer and no doubt will need to make room for more seafood. Brenda dropped off some fresh prawns yesterday which I froze until Vic gets back.  Bruce called with an offer of some alder smoked salmon so I will pick some of that up tonight. Tonight I am off to another feast hosted by the Koeye campers.

I need to take a 1-minute walk to get to my new office and organize some shelving etc. so I will write again.  Please stay in touch!


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