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May 22, 2018

Howay’s Month of May

Howay releases its salmon, celebrates Aboriginal Culture Week, and congratulates its May Day representatives at a May Day Assembly…

On Thursday, May 3rd Howay students, parents and staff released salmon into the Brunette River at Lower Hume Park. This year, a meaningful Coast Salish ceremony led by Bertha Lansdowne, District Coordinator for Aboriginal Programs, allowed participants to fully appreciate the importance of salmon to all Coast Salish people and their culture. As we stood in a large circle, Ros Swanson, Aboriginal Support Worker at Howay, sang some traditional Coast Salish songs, while playing her drum, giving the salmon a send off on their next journey. With Bertha’s teaching and Ros’ song, we learned that the life-cycle of the salmon is inextricably entwined with the culture and life of all Coast Salish people.

After the ceremony, Mrs. Martins, Grade 1/2 teacher, assisted students in releasing salmon into the river. It was a powerful lesson in environmental stewardship. Students have been learning about the salmon life cycle in their classes, and the salmon have been carefully raised by Divisions 5, 6 and 1 over the past few months, with the support of their teachers, including Mrs. Cantafio and Mrs. Browning. This program has been a long standing activity brought to classrooms by dedicated Howay staff who believe these experiences bring the curriculum to life- literally!

The next week, May 7-11, Howay celebrated Aboriginal Culture Week. This was an opportunity for students to highlight their learning about Indigenous cultures throughout the school year. Without the generous support of the PAC, the extra-curricular activities such as Coast Salish art instruction, Powwow dance lessons, and the Coast Salish feast on the Thursday afternoon would not have happened. Throughout the week, students were engaged in activities that highlighted Inuit, Metis, and First Nations culture, language and teachings.

On Thursday afternoon, May 10th,  F. W. Howay was welcomed to the Qayqayt territory by Chief Rhonda Larabee during a school-wide assembly. Students sang and performed several indigenous songs, after aboriginal students demonstrated their powwow dancing in front of their peers. A special song in Ros’ honour, sung by students as a surprise at the end of the assembly, to thank her for everything she has taught Howay students. The song was sung in the language of her First Nation, Carrier, and moved many to tears- including Ros. A big thank you to Dr. Jeanne Kentel for preparing students for this beautiful assembly.

The week of the 7th was a particularly busy one, with Hyack Football providing football instruction during PE classes. Monday was also the day a District wide choral event was being held at Massey Theatre. Dr. Kentel took Howay intermediate students, who have been participating in a musical theatre group at lunch hour, to perform in front of their peers from other elementary schools in the district.

As if we weren’t busy enough, the month of May was also spent preparing for May Day celebrations. On Wednesday, May 16th, Grade 3 and 4 students performed May Day dances for Howay parents and guests. This was also an opportunity to formally introduce Howay May Day representatives, Isabel and Lachlan, to the community and to wish them well as they perform their duties over the course of the next year.  This opportunity prepared everyone for the district and city event held on Wednesday, May 23rd at Queen’s Park. May Day ended up being a spectacularly sunny day, and students did a fine job of their speeches and dancing at the ceremony.

As we look ahead to June, another busy month, I encourage students, parents, and staff to take the time to reflect on the school year and to think about all the positive accomplishments and contributions you have all made to the school community. This year’s learning journey has been designed for your child by an incredibly talented, thoughtful and caring staff. I am proud to be associated with this incredible team of teachers and support staff who truly dedicate their work to making sure your child has a positive experience at school.

I am also appreciative of the level of support and engagement of our parents, who work hard to provide enhanced learning experiences from field trips to cultural events, movie nights and hot lunches. Your involvement in our school community creates such a positive tone for all children at Howay. Thank you for your countless hours of volunteering. We know students at Howay appreciate everything you do for the school.

Please stay tuned for future articles highlighting June events.

Jamie Sadler, Principal, F. W. Howay