Opening Address of Term

I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome back our returning students after their summer break and to extend a huge welcome to all our new students and staff.

For many of you, this is a new campus and new adventure with fresh challenges to face. There will be moments when you are lost, unsure and a little wobbly over the next couple of days and weeks as you learn the rhythm of Shawnigan. But we are here for you.
Our staff have been working incredibly hard to prepare for the start of term. We are so excited to have you all on campus and to support you as you embark on your Shawnigan journeys. Last year, we succeeded in delivering an extraordinary experience in the midst of the pandemic and, this year, we again have plans to deliver an unparalleled education. Our wonderful staff aim – every day – to “spark minds, kindle hearts, forge futures.”

It has been quite a summer….from heatwaves and wildfires in the Pacific North West to the emergence of the delta variant, from the discovery of unmarked graves on the sites of former residential schools to the evacuation of Kabul airport.

Summer sport has certainly lifted spirits – and I must admit to having been gripped with Olympic fever.

The Olympic and Paralympic games provide us with an opportunity to gather every four years, when the world is often faced with turbulence and trouble – and to strive to celebrate what is best about mankind.

Postponed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic – and a first during times of peace in the entire history of this competition – athletes faced uncertainty and obstacles that challenged their physical and mental health. Despite those challenges, Olympic athletes from across the world exemplified perseverance, patience, determination, and courage – and served as an unrivalled source of inspiration for us all.

The International Olympic Committee chose, on the eve of these games, to revise and refresh the original Olympic motto: “Faster, Higher, Stronger” with the addition of “Together” representing solidarity and giving humanity faith in the future.

“Faster. Higher, Stronger, Together.”

A motto for our time. A beacon of hope.

Controversy, of course, followed this summer’s Olympics: the clear and present danger of COVID-19 and the threat of cancellation, zero spectators, political statements, opposition and protests, doping bans, unsporting behaviour, alongside the tears of triumph and disaster of the competitors.

And the Tokyo games were certainly full of unforgettable moments.

It was a Games of our times with the introduction of some of the world’s coolest and most extreme sports to the crucible of tradition: BMX freestyle, skateboarding, speed climbing, and surfing.

17 world records were broken.

An unprecedented number of medals were won by athletes younger than you.

All of us will have our favourite moments.

Here in Canada, we were thrilled to see Team Canada bring home 24 medals including 7 golds.

Canada's women performed superbly, winning 75% of the team's medals and 71% of all the Canadian gold medals.

I find myself supporting Great Britain, South Africa, Norway, and Canada – all places that I have lived and whose people are close to my heart.

But I definitely have two favourite moments: The Canadian women’s soccer team defeating the favourites USA (only the 4th time in 62 matches) and then holding their nerve in a penalty shoot-out in the final versus Sweden; and the moment when two exhausted high jumpers agreed to share Olympic gold with nothing separating their performance.

Shawnigan – with its own proud history and tradition of Olympic success – has been part of some athletes’ journey to Tokyo.

We stepped forward in the spring of 2020 to host a Hong Kong Olympic rowing squad in desperate need of a training base and were, of course, delighted that the Rowing Canada squad returned home with medals, including gold in the Women’s Eight. Many of us will have seen them, at dawn, training down at our Crew House, given our unique partnership with Rowing Canada.

A couple of alumni played for Mexico in the Olympic rugby 7s qualifier and another has just competed in rowing in the Paralympics.

One Shawnigan graduate from this summer won a B final in the Canadian Women’s Four at the World Junior Rowing Championship in Bulgaria.

The Olympics and Paralympics – and other sporting events this summer – have served to remind us that if we work hard, remain disciplined, and give it our best, we can make our dreams come true, even in times of adversity.

I was thrilled to learn of Afghan athletes defying the odds and arriving in Tokyo to compete.

It struck me that Tokyo was the Olympic games of “we” and not “me.” I was deeply touched by so many athletes recognizing in post-event interviews the support they had received from families and the sacrifices of those around them.

We succeed with the support of others.

The Rev and I have been talking about the core messages to deliver at the beginning of this academic year. Drawing on the inspiration of the Olympics and Paralympics, I have distilled them to three key messages for the Shawnigan community:

Firstly, “together” we will meet the challenges of the weeks and term ahead. Let us ensure that we are working alongside each other in a supportive manner to launch and deliver the term ahead. This is a community of “we,” not “me” – and we will be looking out for all our new students in the weeks ahead.

I am certain that you will not remember what I said this evening to launch the academic year but I hope that you remember how you felt sitting together in your Houses for the first time.

Secondly, “belonging” – with students drawn from over 30 countries, we pride ourselves on the sense of belonging we strive to create for each student. Each member of our community is encouraged to respect and learn from the unique remarkable of each individual. Our diversity is our strength.

And, finally, “courage”: we want you to try new things, strive for excellence, and take risks. In the words of Andre de Grasse, Canadian sprinter and Olympic gold medallist at the 200 metres: “Never let your success go to your head; never let your failures get in your heart.”

Good luck with the term ahead.

Richard “Larry” Lamont
Head of Shawnigan Lake School
We acknowledge with respect the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional lands and waterways we live, learn and play. We are grateful for the opportunity to share in this beautiful region, and we aspire to healthy and respectful relationships with those who have lived on and cared for these lands for millennia.