The Blanket Ceremony at Signal Hill

Last week, I met with Clare Hanbury, the Vice Principal at Signal Hill, and Tanina Williams, an Aboriginal cultural support worker, to hear about a Blanket Ceremony I’d caught a glimpse of via Facebook. More about that tomorrow. I’m so thrilled Clare agreed to write about that incredible initiative for the Wellness Almanac, and look forward to her ongoing contributions.  Photos courtesy of Randy Lincks. ~ Lisa

At Signal Hill Elementary, we are very proud of our school.  Our students and staff come from many different places to learn and grow together. One thing that is special about our school is that we have many students from the local First Nations communities of Mt. Currie, N’Quatqua, Samhquam and Skatin. We are privileged to be able to learn the language and rich cultural traditions of this territory.

This year, we decided that we would embark on a journey of learning about the history of Indian Residential Schools that has affected so many of the families of our school. We started down this path with the support of all our Aboriginal staff, and the leadership of our cultural worker Tanina Williams. Slowly, we began to understand the magnitude of this tragic history and the effects it had on generations of families who were forced to send their children to these schools.

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Our learning had a profound impact on us. We made a commitment to share our learning with our families and communities so that we could help to renew relationships and build a more positive future. More importantly, we wanted to reach out to Survivors from our own communities- the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of our students.

We wanted them to wrap them with love and show them that we deeply care about their stories.

Over the school year, we worked hard to create beautiful blankets that would symbolize our support and respect. We were thrilled when 30 Survivors accepted the invitation to come to our school and receive one.

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 On Wednesday June 22nd we gathered as a school community of staff, students, families and our honoured guests. With extraordinary courage, each Survivor accepted a blanket from our students and joined us in dancing to pay tribute to the strength and endurance of their culture.  Many Survivors shared how they were deeply touched by the ceremony and truly felt the love that was put into making the blankets.

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