The weather has been kind to us this fall. On an unexpectedly sunny Monday morning we convoyed out to Comox Lake for a day of canoeing. Several students had never canoed before; most of us are inexperienced at best, which makes it even more impressive that everyone found the courage to get out on the water, and that no one found themselves in the water. We paddled our way across the lake to Coal Beach and later around the bend to Devil’s Ladder, where we watched a group of rock climbers scale a terrifying rock face. When one of our students (very helpfully) yelled, “Don’t fall” one of the climbers replied, “Don’t drown!” Big thank yous to Bobbie for getting the canoes out to the lake, and to Abigayle for some of the excellent photos below.
There was no shortage of pre-game smack talk, and on October 11th the Nala’atsi crew headed to Campbell River to face off in the forest for our second annual laser tag outing. It was a beautiful, sunny day and students & staff had a fantastic time gallivanting through the forest. (Thank you to Bobbie for the exceptional action shots!)
On October 1st the Nala’atsi crew visited the Comox Valley Art Gallery for a guided tour of the Potlatch 67-67 exhibit. Molina Dawson, part of our extended Nala’atsi family, led us through the exceptional exhibit, which explores the “impact of the attempted cultural genocide through the Potlatch ban and the resilience of Indigenous people in maintaining and reclaiming traditional cultural practices and in creating new forms of cultural expression.” We were joined by the lovely Lelaina Jules and Mavis Aubichon as well, who offered personal insight into the exhibit. Thank you to our excellent guides and the creators of Potlatch 67-67 for a powerful and moving experience. (Thank you Lelaina for the photos!)
On May 24th we hosted our annual Nala’atsi Healthy Living Fair. We invited families, caretakers, community members, Elders, trustees, and even 3 classes from Courtenay Elementary to check out student projects, a woodcarving workshop with master carver Wes Nahanee from the Squamish First Nation, tipi construction with Daryle Mills, and a salmon smoking demonstration with Lelaina Jules. The turn-out was excellent, and guests were treated to an array of healthy treats and cultural activities. We were really proud of our students, who were fantastic hosts and produced excellent projects around personal well-being.
Our year-end trip to Victoria was a fantastic conclusion to a fantastic year. Upon arriving in Victoria we were greeted by a number of sassy peacocks in Beacon Hill Park. They were intent upon eating our sandwiches, and managed to terrify a few of our students, but they left hungry. We visited Beacon Hill Park petting zoo where we saw pigs, alpacas, and of course baby goats. We loved seeing our students transform into wide-eyed kids ooh’ing and ah’ing over the baby goats.
Chinatown was a big hit for students, too, and we navigated the narrow Fan Tan alley and explored the various shops and their dizzying array of oddities.
We went to Young’s Chinese Restaurant for dinner, not really knowing what to expect. We ordered 2 ‘Family of 6’ meals. It was an obscene amount of food. After eating the first of 8 dishes (spring rolls and wontons) Tabitha remarked “Is that all the food?” That was not all the food. They continued to bring out plate after plate. At first we felt jubilant, then overwhelmed, and then just embarrassed. But it was a delicious meal, full of laughter and lively conversation. Students went home the next night with many leftovers.
Our tour of the Royal BC Museum First Nations exhibit was excellent, led by our extremely knowledgeable guide Leslie McGarry, from the Kwakiutl First Nation. She shared her extensive knowledge of BC’s First Nations and led us through the stunning collection of art, artifacts, and other displays. Many of our students were proud to see their nations represented in the museum. Leslie packed in an incredible amount of learning into one hour. Thank you Leslie!
All in all, the trip was a complete success and the culmination of all of our adventures throughout the year. Our students were a joy to spend time with and conducted themselves responsibly and with respect. Nala’atsi was well represented in Victoria!
And on the bus ride home the Bobbie Bailer Bus was full of tired but happy students. And Chinese leftovers. Many leftovers.
This year at the annual SD 71 Aboriginal Recognition Night we recognized three exceptional Nala’atsi students: Tabitha Clark, Kaycee Williams, and Desteni Hardy. Tabitha was recognized for outstanding personal growth, her consistently excellent attitude, and her willingness to take risks and try new things. Kaycee was recognized for maintaining an excellent balance between school & outside interests and passions – like dance and mountain biking – for always coming to school with a positive attitude, and for exemplary participation and attendance. Desteni was recognized for her impressive knowledge, experience, and leadership in cultural activities this year, which included mentoring younger students. She was also recognized for the dramatic improvements she’s made this year in terms of work habits and attendance. Well done everyone!
On a sunny Wednesday afternoon the Nala’atsi crew headed to Camp Gilwell to rebuild the Sweat Lodge that we had constructed all the way back in November 2017. Guided by everyone’s favourite Elder-in-training, Daryle Mills, we started by gathering young Alders and a few hours later had erected a picture-perfect Sweat Lodge . The following day students and staff participated in our second sweat of the year. It was another beautiful spring day, and we felt privileged and honoured to have this opportunity to immerse ourselves in culture. Thank you Daryle!