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Home / 2020 / June

The Intrigue of Salish Weave

Gifted to NLPS, Salish Weave is a collection of contemporary Coast Salish art that weaves together distinct art form, design, and style. The 27 Coast Salish original art prints impart an abundance of teachings for all K-7 cross curricular content areas.

Artist techniques include traditional and contemporary design, use of crescents, trigons, ovoids, and split U, visual punning, colour symbolism, and much more. Some themes include, stories and legends, language, spirit, relationships, place names, respect for Mother Nature and all species, importance of salmon, cultural appropriation, and colonial practices. And images evoke political, environmental, social, cultural conversations, as well as conversations on traditional and non-traditional values.

How engaging is Salish Weave in the classroom? Check out lessLie’s Cultural CununDRUM. This piece portrays a Starbucks image robed in traditional symbols. The mermaid is immersed in earth symbols, where the hair can be interpreted as water, mermaid tails are salmon, and the crown is a salmon crown. Starbucks began on Coast Salish Territory which begins a conversation about land. The crown on the mermaid is symbolic of government. Starbucks coffee house is a gathering place, as was the traditional land and sacred places for Coast Salish people. The Starbucks image was originally painted on a drum to change Starbucks music to traditional drumming. The entire image then becomes a parody of culture.

The Salish Weave collection celebrates eight emerging Coast Salish artists:
Luke Marston, John Marston, Andy Everson, Susan A. Point, Dylan Thomas, Maynard Johnny Jr., lessLie, Chris Paul

All artists masterfully present distinctions between Coast Salish art and Northwest Coast art. They merge traditional and contemporary stories, images, and techniques. The artists are committed to ongoing cultural revival, celebrations, and preservation of Coast Salish art and traditions. The artists’ work has been exhibited at the University of Victoria, UBC, Vancouver International Airport, Museum of Anthropology, National Gallery of Canada, and in galleries worldwide.

You can access artist biographies, artist statements, teaching resources, and K-12 lessons on our Salish Weave page. The collection will be circulated throughout the district and available in our Aboriginal Resource Centre in the Fall 2020.

Sit, Watch, Listen

A Tale Gathered In the Field

Bayview Elementary – Indigenous Education

“The relationship to land and place is deeply rooted in First Peoples’ cultural perspectives; living and learning is inextricably tied to sense of place, and connection to the land itself. Traditionally, in addition to the learner’s family and community, the place in which they live, and the land that supports that life, provide the context and source for teaching and learning. The community and natural environment are regarded as the “classroom”.

~ First Peoples Principles of Learning website

I’ve been thinking about this quote quite a bit during this time of being at home. What does learning about Indigenous ways of knowing and being look like and extend into home and community? 

We have been given this opportunity to slow down, quiet our minds, and connect/reconnect with ourselves, each other, and the world around us. Being at home with my toddler has reminded me about the natural curiosity and wonder of life and the world (plant, animal, insect, marine, etc.).

Looking at the world through another person’s eyes (toddler, child, teen, adult, elder) reminds us of the diverse perspectives and ways we understand and interact with the world. Each perspective and experience helps us to come to know who we are (individually and collectively) in relation to each other and the natural world.  To me, being curious, vulnerable, humble and open to what we have to learn from others (humans, plants and animals) is the heart of Indigenous ways of knowing and being. What are we learning about ourselves? Each other? Students? Families? Communities? 

During this time of learning from home, Jaime Stephens (Gitxsan, Indigenous Education Support Teacher – Bayview Elementary) has been engaging teachers, students and families in land education and pedagogy of place. 

Jaime Stephens

One of Jaime’s learning assignments encourages students to create a sound map – a visual representation of what they hear. This idea came from her experience in her teaching program’s outdoor education class. Jaime wanted to build upon the idea of sound maps and weave in Indigenous connections. She wanted to take the idea beyond connecting it to science and adapt it to fit within and infuse Indigenous ways of knowing, learning and values.

Jaime shares that creating a visual representation of what you hear “connects to the concept of Sit, Watch, Listen (SWL)  in Indigenous Education…SWL encourages us to be present without distractions and listen to the world around us.” Jaime encourages students to do the sound map activity with a partner so that they could compare their representations afterwards. “It is important for kids to understand that we have different experiences and these experiences impact how we are going to interact with those around us.”  


I encourage you to check out Jaime’s Sound Map lesson here. Find another person to do this with. Compare your visual representations. When you slow down and just listen, what do you learn about yourself? What do you notice? What do you learn about another person and how they experience the world?

June is Pride month

We acknowledge that Pride has become synonymous with diversity, rainbows, and love.  Pride is a powerful celebration and acknowledgement of LGBTQ2S+ communities and their freedom to be who they are.  The intersection of the LGBTQ2S+ community and people that are minoritized continue to face ongoing, systemic oppression, discrimination and prejudice.

Pride did not start as a celebration. Pride started as an uprising against police violence and injustice in June 1969 in New York City. Black and Brown trans women stood up to police violence to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ2S+ community. These acts of resistance, now known as the Stonewall uprising, led to the birth of Pride, Pride marches and the LGBTQ2S+ rights movement. 

Pride marks a time for the LGBTQ2S+ community to create space to express and celebrate who they are. Pride events remind us that we still have work to do to recognize the rights of all LGBTQ2S+ people in our quest to achieve equity, equality, and inclusion.  We will not stop until we live in a world without oppression and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

In Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, we continue to work towards goal #2: Safe, caring and healthy learning and working environment that is inclusive of the diversity of our entire learning community. All schools must be inclusive places where all students and staff feel safe, accepted, respected, welcome and proud of who they are. 

While COVID-19 has presented many challenges and hardships, there have also been many opportunities for learning and growth.  The opportunity we have been given to work virtually with colleagues has created these spaces.  For the past few weeks, we have had the privilege of working with sponsor teachers from school GSA’s and Social Justice clubs to find a way to move Pride celebrations to an online opportunity where all people can access at home and in-school.  Special thanks to the sponsor teachers from École Quarterway, École North Oyster, Chase River Elementary, and Ladysmith Secondary for putting these learning activities together.  

The elementary learning menu can be found here

The secondary learning module can be found here.

Indigenous Storytelling

While intriguing and entertaining, Indigenous storytelling and oral history can be  highly complex topics of discussion and learning. Stories are centuries old, they encompass historical, political, environmental, and sacred subject matter, and they are specific to diverse Indigenous Nations. Dr. Ellen Rice White remarkably captures the enormity of these undertakings in her Legends of Xeel’s, The Creator.

Dr. Ellen Rice White was a highly respected Elder from the Snumeymuxw First Nation. Her Indigenous name was Kwulasulwut which translates Many Stars. She was an educator, author, storyteller, and traditional knowledge keeper who believed education was the key to social change and community building. Her Grandmother and Great Uncle taught her traditional teachings and traditional stories.

Indigenous Approaches to Learning:

  • All elements (inanimate/animate have energy
  • All elements communicate and interact with this energy
  • Purpose: to listen and find person meaning
  • The person telling the story does not tell people what to think
  • There is no right or wrong answer
  • Learning comes from listeners’ personal understanding

Legends and Teachings of Xeel’s, The Creator addresses matters of the body, mind, heart, and spirit that arise at different stages of the characters’ lives. The solutions include opening your body, mind, heart, and spirit to the healing energies of nature (land, water, air, species, environment) and from learning to respect yourself, family, community, and cultural practices. The characters’ challenges are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago. To support educators, after each story, there is a Discussion Section. Written in narrative form, it includes story summaries, explanations of cultural understandings, and connections between characters’ problems then and now.

If you never fully understood the First Peoples Principles of Learning, the legends beautifully model all the principles. Kwulasulwut wants readers to know that the stories were handed down to her from her grandparents and their ancestors of the Coast Salish people. She expresses that the stories belong to Xeel’s, so she wants to share the stories, as they teach lessons on the importance of family and community values and how to get along.

While this resource is important for all educators to learn about traditional storytelling and Indigenous worldviews, the content is appropriate for youth and adults (see children’s books below). This is a cross curricular resource.