Brentwood Bay school, First Nations pull together for new book

New book published about Bayside’s Coast Salish canoe carving project.

Pauquachin carver Curtis Henry stands with Bayside Middle School teacher Shauna White at Bayside’s canoe book launch Tuesday. Please see page three for details.

In a follow up to Bayside Middle School’s canoe carving project last year, students, staff and representatives from the community came out Tuesday to celebrate the launch of their canoe story We All Pull Together.

The book followed the School’s traditional Coast Salish canoe carving project that was completed last year by the entire school under the direction of Pauquachin Carver Curtis Henry, who also came back to Bayside to help write the book.

The book was written and illustrated by Grade 6 and 7 students in the class taught by Shauna White.

Some of the speakers at the Tuesday morning book launch included representatives from the Saanich School District, Bayside’s Parents Advisory Council; (PAC), individuals from the Community Arts Council of the Saanich Peninsula and representatives from the Tsawout First Nation.

Councillor with the Tsawout First Nation Mavis Underwood said the project is really important and brings people together.

“When we look at ideas for curriculum, it’s living curriculum,” she explained. “It’s also about truth and reconciliation, so it brings the First Nations students and profiles them in a way where their history is celebrated and they can have that real strong sense of pride in something that’s unique and something that’s really important to the culture.”

Underwood said it’s a real inspiration for not only the young people but also for the elders.

The finished canoe sits in the school’s library, holding the now completed canoe books. White said when students come to Bayside, it’s a story they can follow for years to come.

“We went through a really big learning process to do with writing, so all the different stages of writing,” she told the PNR.

“The Grade 7s needed to share the story and tell how we came to do this project in the first place, so that was really a neat way of passing along the knowledge in kind of  the same tradition as would normally happen within the WASANEC people.”

Writing the book began in January of this year and students were partnered up. One Grade 6 student was paired with one Grade 7 student and the making of the story was broken up into 16 different parts.

Each pair then got to choose a particular part of the story and went through a writing process where they narrowed their focus to that part, writing it in detail. They then did some illustrations to go along with it.

“In their partnerships they all shared the part of their story that they had written. So they took a piece out of it that was the most important to them but then as a collective piece, it gave a summary of the story overall so that people could hear the whole story without reading the entire book,” said White.

White said the book is important because it helps keep the story alive in terms of what they did as a whole school, because carving the canoe was a really big project that brought everyone together to implement a shared vision.