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

Just Posted

Cycslists were all smiles during ninth Tour de Victoria

More than 2,100 cyclists participated

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after Const. Beckett’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Police investigating incident in Saanich neighbourhood

Neighbours tell Black Press Media that a body has been found, but police remain tight-lipped.

Langford lizard sighting excites Victoria museum curator

Curator of vertebrate zoology/knowledge explains the spread of the Wall lizard in the region

Colwood man takes on Ride to Conquer Cancer for 11th year in a row

Team Finn has raised almost $3 million for BC Cancer Foundation

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

Most Read