So many adventures at Nala’atsi this spring! April & May saw us alongside the beautiful Puntledge River exploring the trails at Bevan Townsite. A couple weeks later we ventured up the trails behind Cumberland to the China Bowls, where Perseverance Creek has carved intricate patterns into the riverbed. Finally, in late May we hiked out to Coal Beach where we marveled at Comox Lake and skipped rocks on the water. Students & staff felt re-energized and picked up some great ideas for summer adventures, too!
Sun’s out guns out, as they say. We’re loving the sunshine and the positive energy it brings. After some obligatory smack talk the stage was set for outdoor Lahal this Thursday. Honourary Nala’atsi members Lelaina Jules & Jeannie Walker joined us for an enjoyable, (mostly) sportsmanlike afternoon of Lahal. Lots of smiles, laughter, and good times – and definitely no bruised egos or calls for an immediate rematch… Stay tuned!
The Nala’atsi crew kept busy throughout March! Bannock making, ice skating, tubing, Medicine Wheel teachings, a letter burning ceremony with David – these were just a few of the things we did over the last 3 weeks. Below are some photos from an awesome afternoon on the beach at Seal Bay, where David led us through a number of songs and students explored the shoreline for treasures. Also included are photos from our tubing adventure at Mt Washington where students & staff had too much fun whizzing down (and in some cases twirling down) the slopes on a pristine blue-skied afternoon.
It was a typically overcast morning in Courtenay when we left for the mountain, but about half-way up Strathcona Parkway the skies opened up, the sun came out, and then it was blue skies for as far as you could see. The Nala’atsi crew had a fantastic time playing in the snow on our first snowshoe outing of the year. We made it twice as far as we did last year, reaching a vantage point where we were treated to stunning views of coastal mountains and beyond. We’ll definitely be heading out on the trails again soon.
On a misty Monday afternoon the Nala’atsi crew headed out to Elk Falls Suspension Bridge for the latest instalment in our photo safari series. After a lovely walk through the forest we arrived at the suspension bridge. For several students, this was their first visit. Reactions ranged from excited to terrified, with some students crossing the bridge and others enjoying the views from a distance. In any case, everyone enjoyed the stunning views and the quality time spent outdoors.
Lots of stormy weather this winter, and for many of us some hopes & plans that we’ve had to let go, which makes it even more important to find comfort in the small things: laughter with friends, making a mess while learning new arts & crafts, sharing bannock, goofing around outside (maybe not today…) – whatever keeps us moving forward. Wishing our entire Nala’atsi family (and extended family) a restful, happy, and safe winter break!
It had been three years since Nala’atsi students & staff last made drums, so this year we decided to make it a priority. On Monday we gathered at Wachiay for a full day of teachings and drum making. It was awesome to witness all the positive energy and love going into those drums. A big thank you to Tim, Daryle, and Gail, who helped students & staff over the course of the day (everyone finished making their own drum!) Also, a big thank you to Phil Mills for supplying us with the hides and other materials.
In light of the realities of the Covid era the Nala’atsi crew is spending more time exploring and appreciating this beautiful land that we call home. All of our outings this fall have been outdoors – and what’s more – no one is complaining! Outdoor Laser Tag is an annual event that students anticipate and staff dread, and this year was no exception. Students had a fantastic time, taking particular delight in encircling and then thoroughly destroying Rory. Before we’d returned to the school there were requests for another round of laser tag this school year. Highly unlikely. Later in October we participated in an Indigenized Zombie Apocalypse Survival training workshop with Daryle Mills at Comox Lake. Students learned survival essentials, including how to start a fire without a lighter. It took some time, but within the hour we had a couple fires going. Thank you Daryle for being such an entertaining and knowledgeable guide, as always! Finally, the Nala’atsi Adventure Club completed its inaugural mission this week – the Nile Creek hike. Students demonstrated their new survival skills on the hike, fully prepared to camp out overnight as they anticipated their guide getting them lost (such little faith). But against all odds we made it back to the school safe and sound – a little muddy, a little sore, but with an extra glow and a sense of accomplishment too.
For our second outing of the year we headed to Englishman River Falls, where students & staff hiked the upper & lower falls loop while taking in the stunning scenery. Students also photographed the waterfalls and old-growth forest during the hike – see below for some of the results!
For our first outing of the new school year the Nala’atsi crew headed out for our annual Mystery Beach drum & sharing circle. All week we’d been having conversations about Orange Shirt Day and the history & legacy of the residential school system. These are heavy & difficult topics, but it is inspiring to see our students take part in these discussions, learn the history, and start to understand their power in ensuring that history never repeats itself. It’s also inspiring to see our students embrace culture as a means to strengthen identity, purpose, and pride. Here are some photos from our drum & sharing circle at Mystery Beach – what a beautiful day!