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Don Ross students celebrate Squamish Nation culture

Workshops expose students to First Nation traditions

Students at Don Ross Secondary School celebrated Squamish Nation culture during the inaugural Sko-Mish Day festivities on Tuesday (May 18).

Sko-Mish Day organizer and Don Ross English teacher Stephanie Potter-Davey said the day was created to expose Grade 8 students to new cultural experiences.

"They get to try a variety of new activities that they had never tried before and learn a little bit about Squamish culture."

Potter-Davey said the festivities are also geared towards fostering a community of inclusiveness, mutual respect and pride.

"It's for the Squamish Nation kids that live here because a day like this will instil a sense of pride in their community and in themselves."

Rows of students filled the gymnasium bleachers to hear welcoming remarks by 18th generation Chief Floyd Joseph and Squamish Nation Coun. Josh Joseph followed by a traditional drum song.

Students spent the day rotating around Squamish Nation led workshops focused on First Nation medicine, the ancient art of story telling, bark weaving techniques, Slahal - a traditional bone game and the sport of lacrosse.

With strips of water soaked tree bark in hand, Charlene Williams and Joy McCullough led the weaving workshop to a room full of students.

"It's about sharing traditions that are passed on from generation to generation," McCullough said.

"This is something that was almost lost. We had to pick back up, so there's not a whole lot of weavers in the community but we're building weavers."

A Squamish Nation master basket weaver Tracy Sesemiya Williams taught both McCullough and Williams.

"We want to build an appreciation for what we do and the resources we use. You know the saying made in Canada, truly, this is made in Canada."

McCullough said she hopes Don Ross students have a better understanding of the land they inhabit as well as appreciate the earth and all of its resources.

Teachers at Don Ross Secondary School hope to make Sko-Mish Day an annual event for all students.

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