Reflection – April 2023

As the world continues to open up following years of pandemic restrictions, the School has begun to travel further afield – from the prairies to California and, over Spring Break, it was my distinct pleasure to accompany some of Shawnigan’s first overseas trips since March 2020.
Shawnigan’s senior boys’ rugby team had the honour of being the only North American team at a special rugby sevens tournament in England celebrating the bicentenary of the game. Hosted by Rugby School – the birthplace of the game – the occasion brought together top high school teams from Australia, Chile, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, and the UK. Watching from the sidelines, I found the event absolutely exhilarating, and I am sure it was an unforgettable experience for all our players and coaches.

The tournament provided our team with an introduction to the standard of rugby worldwide and was a great primer for their competitive season back here in Canada – and served as a great example of the unity and camaraderie that are developed through sport. The boys had an experience in England and Wales that they will remember for a lifetime.

We were delighted to make our return to Asia following the excitement in the UK, with stops in three cities – Hong Kong, Seoul, and Tokyo. It was an absolute pleasure to travel with Gaynor and Rhodri Samuel and to hear how excited parents, alumni, and others in our Shawnigan community are about the creation of Samuel House, the pioneering co-educational Grade 8 House – with separate wings for girls and boys – which is named in their honour, and which will open its doors in early 2024.

The Shawnigan delegation enjoyed connecting with our communities in these cities and was consistently humbled by the warmth of our reception and the generosity of spirit we encountered. Many current Shawnigan parents, even when we didn’t share a common language, expressed their appreciation for the care we take of their children. I came away with a clear understanding as to how important the House Director and the Advisor combination is to these families in other countries.

We are always looking to diversify our student body and have been encouraged by how strong our admissions have been coming out of the pandemic – and we were pleased, whilst overseas, to have the opportunity to meet with many prospective families, attracted to the Shawnigan Journey.

An equally important strategic priority in recent years has been the recruitment of outstanding, worldly, diverse, and ambitious staff, and we have been fortunate recently to attract faculty and staff from the Himalayas, West Africa, the United States, South Africa, and Tokyo along with the best in BC and Canada.

They join our wonderful staff team in providing positive role models for our diverse student body and are helping to create an authentic Canadian boarding school experience here at Shawnigan.

I am proud to say that our students continue to lead the way in creating a welcoming home-away-from-home for our diverse School community – from bravely speaking from the heart in Chapel to sharing their food and culture on special occasions to engaging in discussions about the conflict in Afghanistan and Ukraine, they have inspired us at every turn. The Shawnigan family has been particularly enriched by our Impact Scholars in recent years as these students from conflict or post-conflict areas have generously shared their stories, talents, and cultures with us.

From the fading of the cherry blossom in downtown Tokyo in early April to the bursting into life of the pink cherry blossom in the front gardens of campus in late April, Spring has sprung.
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.