Abigail Nasr, a Grade 6 student at Eric Langton elementary, learns about archery during the Ignite program at Westview secondary on Thursday. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Aboriginal students Ignite at Westview

Connecting with culture and community in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows.

Grade 6 Aboriginal students from across the school district gathered at Westview secondary on Thursday for the biannual Ignite camp.

About 100 students from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows attended the two-day event, which runs in the fall and spring.

Students were assigned to one of eight clans named after an animal. Then there was an opening circle before the students started their rotations in a variety of activities that connects them to their culture.

This year students took part in weaving, lacrosse, Metis dot art, wood burning, drumming, archery, medicine pouch making and beading.

“We’ve got some goals that we work on to really try and connect kids more with their culture and their community,” said Jonathan Wheatley, with the School District NO. 42 Aboriginal Education department.

He says the camp, the Ignite program, among other school district initiatives, have proven successful when it comes to Aboriginal graduation rates.

“Of all the districts in the province, we have the highest six-year grad rates of any school district where there is a cohort of 100 students or more,” said Wheatley.

He said 85 per cent of Aboriginal students in the district graduate within six years.

“That’s 16 per cent above the provincial average. It’s not a little amount, it’s a big thing.”

Shannon Adams, from the Katzie First Nation, is an aboriginal support worker at Golden Ears elementary and Kanaka Creek elementary.

She collaborates with the teachers at the schools teaching local history of the Katzie and Kwantlen.

I think that’s one of the good things about working together with other teachers to get local knowledge out there because a lot of people don’t even know about their local nations and where they are. And some of the students even thought they didn’t really exist anymore,” said Adams.

“Also helping some of the kids that are Metis that maybe were displaced from their reserve and don’t know what their background is, helping them find that identity again and that sense of community,” Adams continued, saying that this group of Grade 6 students will go on a trip together in Grade 7 and another in Grade 8.

“It’s helping them transition into high school and also making friendships with different First Nations in the community that they normally wouldn’t meet,” said Adams.

Adams, herself, went through the Ignite program and says it has changed a lot since then.

“We do more in class support and helping the kids,” Adams continued, adding that it is based on a tier system so the higher risk students will get more help from support workers.

Adams says there is a lot that aboriginal students take away from the camp.

“Just being able to try different things they wouldn’t normally try. Just even celebrating the culture. And I think it is the sense of community because all of the Grade 6’s across the school district are here that are First Nations.”

 

Pepper Herr, a Grade 6 student at The Environmental School learns about weaving during the Ignite program at Westview secondary on Thursday. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Students learn about Metis dot art during the Ignite program at Westview secondary on Thursday. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Students make medicine pouches during the Ignite program at Westview secondary on Thursday. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Abigail Nasr, a Grade 6 student at Eric Langton elementary, learns about archery during the Ignite program at Westview secondary on Thursday. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Just Posted

Maple Ridge’s Tiller’s Folly kick off international music series in Surrey

Come Dancing Around the World takes place at the Surrey Arts Centre

Rescuers battle fog, wind, rain on stormy Maple Ridge mountain

Four hikers rescued Sunday in Golden Ears park

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

Guilty plea in Lower Mainland break-and-enter spree

Gordon Vincent Gladstone, 42, was charged with 12 counts relating to a dozen incidents in late 2018

Vancouver police officer hit with bear spray mid-arrest

Officer had been trying to arrest a woman wanted province-wide

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

Most Read