Gathering moves aboriginal learning forward

Hazelton Secondary School hosted a First Nations education meeting May 31 that drew speakers from all corners of B.C.

Hazelton Secondary School hosted a First Nations education meeting May 31 with keynote speakers from Victoria and educators made the in-district trip from Terrace to take part.

More than 40 educators from School District 82 attended HSS to learn how to foster a brighter future for indigenous students and raise the profile of traditional B.C. First Nations culture in the school system.

Dr. Jane Smith, John Field Elementary teacher and author, led a group through storytelling and its importance in the Gitxsan culture.

“It doesn’t matter how many times you hear these stories there’s always more to learn from them,” Smith said.

Smith relayed to the crowd the Gitxsan world view before getting into the stories.

“Everything is circular,” Smith said to explain how Gitxsan beliefs affect the way Gitxsan children learn.

“Educators might bang their heads trying to get our kids to think differently.

“But even though our kids aren’t sat down and told about this Gitxsan world-view they know and feel it.”

Donna Flett, from Victoria, led the From Despair to Dreams session which told the stories of students who managed to find something they were successful in that helped them to maintain interest in academics.

Despair to Dreams was in keeping with the message from one of the opening speakers, Richard Sampson, F.A.S.T. program, who told a personal story.

“Luckily I found basketball,” Sampson said.

“I was ready to quit school by Grade 4 because the other kids would bug me for being so tall.

“I got to thinking I was dumb, but that wasn’t the case at all.”

Sampson told the audience how important it was to have parents that practiced and taught parts of the Gitxsan culture to him, which was the subject of the most popular workshop of the day.

The Indigenous Language workshop was led by Oscar, Ryan and Reg Dennis.

The trio are part of a resurgence of the Tahltan language in their home village of Iskut an they came to share how they’ve achieved the success.

“It was good to come and share,” Oscar said.

“And network too.”


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