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!
Congratulations to our 2020 Nala’atsi graduates! We are so proud of you and all your accomplishments, and we wish you the very best in your future endeavours. A message from David: “Madison (Adi) Watson, Kaleb Andrew, & Daedra O’Malley!! A huge congratulations to these beautiful young warriors. Our Nala’atsi Graduates of 2020. I must say, my eyes teared up watching their graduation video. I love and cherish all the moments we got to share together this past year. I know I am exactly where I am meant to be on my path. They have put a sparkle in my eye. For that I am grateful. ‘The bad news is, there is no key to the universe. The good news is, it was never locked.’ Give yourself everything you deserve in life. You are worth it. You are strong. You are resilient. You are beautiful in your own way. We will always be family!!!!❤️❤️❤️❤️ Love always, Gamutalagalis”
This week Nala’atsi students & staff participated in a really enjoyable day of cedar weaving, feasting, and cultural teachings with Avis O’Brien and a number of our favourite elders. It was a really powerful day of learning and sharing with a group spanning several generations. We’d like to thank Avis, the elders who joined us for the day, and First Nations Health Authority for their generous support in making this happen!
Congratulations to Nala’atsi student Daedra O’Malley, who was selected as the Rotary Club ‘Student of the Month’ for February 2020! Daedra is being recognized for dramatically improved attendance, the exceptional work that she has submitted this year (specifically for English First Peoples 12), her thoughtful and intelligent contributions to group discussion, and her participation in several extra-curricular activities including the Youth Climate Action Conference, North Island Writers Conference, and weekly Qmunity gatherings at Wachiay Friendship Center. Well done Daedra!