Throughout National Indigenous History Month, the Shawnigan community has had many opportunities to learn more about the rich and diverse histories and cultures of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.
Led by Lisa Jokivirta, social justice educator and Shawnigan’s inaugural Bruce-Lockhart Fellow, together with our Indigenous Advisory Committee, the School was thoughtfully guided through a month-long journey of discovery.
Educational and artistic displays could be found across the Main Building. Mitchell Hall was filled with a special art exhibit made up of staff and community members’ Indigenous artwork paired with deeply meaningful and personal stories. A library display about Indigenous languages was paired with a curated reading list. And as a tie-in to Pride Month, a display in the Friesen Centre highlighted the interconnected struggles of Indigenous and LGBTQ2S+ Canadians against discrimination, silencing, and exclusion.
Students and staff had opportunities to learn and ask questions throughout the month. After a Tuesday Gathering with a presentation by Brigette Furlonger, subsequent discussions ensued within classrooms, as well as an afternoon student leadership circle. Some of our senior athletes organized an afternoon of lacrosse and hope to bring more participation and visibility to this sport next year.
A particularly memorable afternoon was spent in Mitchell Hall as Shawnigan was honoured to welcome Ed Peekeekoot, a Cree multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and storyteller, likened to be the “Johnny Cash of Indigenous Canada.” He played an intimate set and had the crowd stomping their feet, clapping their hands, and folded over in laughter.
The month culminated with National Indigenous Peoples Day, which the School community marked by wearing our “Love” word shirts – the theme for this year, as chosen by our Grade 12s – while our kitchen team created three celebratory meals based on our Indigenous students’ requests, including smoked salmon bannock tacos and venison burgers. We were delighted to have one of our Indigenous students share a few words and a special blessing at lunchtime.
Throughout the month, we were honoured to feature some of our Indigenous students, who generously shared their stories with our community through a series of profiles.
This month of engagement, connection, celebration, and education represented a positive step forward for the Shawnigan community as we continue on our journey as emerging learners.
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.
Shawnigan Lake School is an independent co-educational boarding school for ages 13 –18 on Canada’s beautiful West Coast. Our diverse, interdisciplinary and innovative programming helps shape the next generation of global leaders.