Give Back, Carry Forward

By Ms. Jenise Boland, Social Studies Teacher 

This past summer the first cohort of WPGA students completed the BC First Peoples 12 course, a new offering within the social studies faculty. This course not only meets the new provincial graduation requirement but also provides students with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the diversity, depth and integrity of the cultures of Indigenous Peoples in what we now know as the Province of British Columbia.

In addition to classroom learning, students participated in experiential learning opportunities such as visiting the long house at Grouse Mountain, exploring the Musqueam installations at the Vancouver and Maritime Museums, and meeting at YVR with Mary Point, Relationship Manager of the Musqueam-YVR Sustainability & Friendship Agreement. Ms. Point shared the gift of her song, knowledge and culture with WPGA students, and they learned more about the complexities of the Agreement, including building economies through revenue sharing, preserving culture through archaeological resources, and fostering a strong future. Students were joined by Summer Cannel' 24, WPGA student and artist whose artwork is featured throughout YVR. Summer shared the Friendship Agreement Logo, which was partially designed using the shape of her own hand. 

Students toured the artwork of YVR and investigated not only the artists but also the meaning behind the selection and placement of the art. Of the experience, student Henry L (’24) reflected, “The most interesting part of this trip is being able to take the time to enjoy the art and architecture of the airport. Never before have I looked closely at the meaning behind what is displayed. For example, I often see the Great Wave while traveling but never really understood the meaning behind it. It is a fascinating journey to see the relationships between the art pieces and their connection to the traditions.”

An essential component of the BC First Peoples 12 course this year is the Give Back, Carry Forward year-long project, adapted from FNESC resources by Ms. Diamond Point, WPGA Indigenous Education Coordinator. Empowered with their knowledge about the history and culture of the Jericho Lands, this week our summer course students were invited into the Social Studies 9 classes to share a piece of their journey. They also shared their personalized land acknowledgments and invited their grade 9 peers to craft their own journey of learning and a dedication to give back, carry forward.