While much of my year has been spent on tasks and meetings related to school reconfiguration, over the last couple of months, I’ve been fortunate enough to personally observe all kinds of wonderful things happening all over our district.
On Monday, May 6th, hundreds of our band, music, and choir students converged on the Cariboo Memorial Complex to join Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and Canadian band Barenaked Ladies as they sang “Is Somebody Singing” (ISS). As cool as it was to join students from all across Canada to simultaneously sing the song while Hadfield was still living at the International Space Station (ISS, interesting coincidence?), the most remarkable part of it for me was seeing so many of our students joining as one “voice”. A French Immersion choir from Glendale, a recorder band from Mountview, a choir from PSO, and elementary and secondary band students from across the district made a for a massive district musical group, the likes of which our district has likely not witnessed before. Somehow, four conductors led the group at the same time. The arts are alive and well in School District No. 27!
On Friday, May 10th, I put on a hard hat and took a tour of the Centennial gravel pit on Bond Lake Road where twenty-four Grade 11 and 12 students from across our district were operating heavy machinery. In partnership with WorkSafe BC and local industry, Gord Armour and Lisa Kraus from Career Programs have designed a weeklong program which sees students receive safety and first aid training before getting a chance to operate the machinery itself. The students are then matched up with experienced equipment operators who act as mentors during the event. Students worked their way through a number of stations related to operating machinery in the construction industry. These students won’t receive a better hands-on experience to test whether this is a career option for them.
On May 16th and 17th, I was privileged to participate in the St. Joseph’s Residential School Commemoration Events in Williams Lake. As part of the visit from the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, Chief Fred Robbins from Esketemc along with a steering committee of community leaders from Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, and Quesnel organized a wonderful two days that has the potential to produce lasting change in our region. While extremely difficult to summarize everything that happened, I found the two days life-changing as I listened to stories from my friends and neighbors that had never been told before. If you have not had the chance to visit the two monuments that were erected, you can find one near the original residential school site on the Mission Road near the Williams Lake Indian Band and the other one in Boitanio Park in Williams Lake. As was Chief Fred’s vision, this event was the first of its kind in Canada to include First Nations and non-First Nations leadership from the outset.
Many more photos and videos of the Commemoration Events can be found here. On the “Videos” page, you will also find two videos created by two of our First Nation students as part of a Youth Video Project. These student videos are the two videos at the bottom of this page.
Good things are happening around our district!