SENĆOŦEN course taught at Stelly’s school

Introductory First Nation language course helps build ties between cultures

Stelly's students wrote messages about their reaction to seeing the mistreatment our First Nations experienced in the residential school system.

Come fall, students can study SENĆOŦEN at Stelly’s secondary school.

It follows the lead of the LÁU,WELNEW Tribal School and W̱SÁNEĆ school board.

Last week, all students at the high school got a taste of what that might mean to aboriginal students.

The library was set up for the week as a learning centre with five stations to help educate students on the residential school system in the province and First Nations culture in general.

“It’s significant that we remind our kids in the community about the First Nations teachings in the community,” said principal Peter Westhaver. The exercise was created after a team of students attended the Truth and Reconciliation hearings in Victoria. There they heard from those who experienced residential schools first hand.

“It’s been powerful but also positive,” said Terry Steele, First Nations support teacher at Stelly’s.

It was just one portion of W̱SÁNEĆ week at Stelly’s honouring the four First Nation communities on the Saanich Peninsula. Other events included talks from local chiefs, traditional food sampling and nature walks.

“It’s a start of a new beginning and a new relationship, not just here on the Peninsula, but beyond,” said Philip Tom, cultural education assistant at Stelly’s. “Students and teachers had open minds … This week has been overwhelming with the aboriginal learning opportunities.”

Monday they launched the cherry on top – a new introductory SENĆOŦEN program in true W̱SÁNEĆ style with a feast for elders, staff, administration and chiefs.

“The foundation comes from the tribal school, John Elliot, the elders group and the apprentice group. Without them we couldn’t offer this program,” Tom said. “I believe [the language] is starting to make a comeback and a lot of pride is coming back to our people with the language coming back.”

The introductory SENĆOŦEN, while designated a Grade 11 course, will be open to all students.

“Offering it just demonstrates an inherent level of respect for the SENĆOŦEN language and W̱SÁNEĆ culture,” Steele said.

Forty one students have already registered and the school expects to expand the course to cover other grades in the future. Stelly’s follows the footsteps of LÁU,WELNEW Tribal School on West Saanich Road which already uses the B.C. Ministry of Education and locally developed SENĆOŦEN language and culture curriculum.

 

Peninsula First Nations communities

• TSARTLIP, 750 members

• PAUQUACHIN, 220 members

• TSEYCUM, 150 members

• TSAWOUT, 630 members

 

Related stories

SENĆOŦEN language nest strives to revive native tongue

Cultivating culture for Tsartlip kids

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Woman comes home to ‘entirely different’ Victoria after cruise ship, military base quarantine

Melanie Sibbitt booked herself a last-minute vacation on a cruise ship hit by COVID-19

Victoria brewery uses 3D-printer to make face shields for health care workers

Phillips Brewing is teaming up with engineers to create single-use medical equipment

Wheelchair user asks people to leave space on sidewalks to socially distance

Wendy Cox says many people are not stepping off the sidewalk to allow her space

COVID-19: Victoria moves homeless into 35 hotel rooms across the city

Mayor pleads with residents to stay inside during pandemic

Victoria street nurse thanks public for outpouring of donations

Businesses and individuals donated gloves, masks, sanitizers and more to frontline workers

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

Canadian ferry operators call for inclusion in COVID-19 travel restrictions

Domestic travel restrictions should include ferries, operators say

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Most Read