Students at Haahuupayak School on the Tseshaht First Nation have a new outdoor learning space to use. Students on June 10 blessed the ground, conducting a ceremony under the tutelage of teachers Helen Lucas and Trevor Little.
The area was previously full of brambles, but has been cleared, leveled and covered in gravel.
Before the ceremony Little thanked the students for their leadership, reminded them of their role in leaving their mark for students who will follow them, and asked them to put their good feelings into the ground during the blessing.
Lucas thanked principal Nancy Logan and accountant Brenda Sayers for supporting the students’ request for more money to set up their outdoor learning space.
Students blessed the ground by singing and spreading puqtleetim, or eagle down, on the ground. This is something that was done at potlatches to symbolize protection, Little explained.
Students chose to sing the war song as well as Kweekwaltha, the victory song, as part of their ceremony. A second Grade 5 class assisted with drumming and singing while Lucas’s class performed and sang.
The outdoor space is large enough that the whole student body can use it once pandemic restrictions are lifted. Some picnic tables will be installed and a canoe shed will be built on the leveled-out gravel area to house canoes for a new program. A set of low, wide cement stairs was built to provide access to a forested area near a creek. Lucas said she often took a white board out and leaned it against a tree to hold lessons while her students wrote in their journals.
“I find being out here, they’re a lot more focused and relaxed—being in nature doing their work. They’re asking me to come out here every day.”
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