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Blog: Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

Walking Forward Together

What do music videos have to do with Walking Forward Together? A highlight at our conference was the debut of our Youth Music Video’s A Warrior’s Dream and Strong and Brave. For the students who participated (as well as those who watched the videos), the music videos embodied what it means to belong. Our students identified the struggle with the history and impact of residential schools on families still today and the realization that these students are claiming their place in our schools and communities. 

Aiden writes, “They took the brightest nations, left us isolated, but now we've come together, and we will fight to change this, so many fears I have, but I gotta be courageous, the stories have been shared, so our future's never faded.”

Clayton writes, “let’s face our fears, enforce the truth, I have a bright future, got more to do, they want me scared, they want me mute, but I know I’m smart, they ignore that too, long ago, in foster care, I called it home, I was lost and scared, now the good spirit, I wanna share, cause I know I’m strong, and it got me here.”

Through the process of writing the lyrics, recording the music and filming, the students talked about “taking the power back” and the safe environment to share everyday experiences with students from other schools and to realize they were part of a larger community.  

The Aboriginal Department strives to uphold high expectations for all aboriginal students. Our goal is that indigenous students in our schools and district will achieve parity with their non-aboriginal peers.  But more than that, we need to recognize further the unique gifts and qualities of our aboriginal students that may not always be measured.  By going back to the roots of how First People organized, governed, and educated their communities we know that we need to create new ways of learning, new methods of assessing and measuring what ‘success’ means. We must look deeper than our western perspective with a focus on grades, grad rates, and attendance and ensure we measure the right thing. The new BC Curriculum is a catalyst for this kind of change. Traditionally in First Peoples’ communities, the culture was at the centre, rich in language, where students expressed their curiosity and were encouraged to experience and learn from the Elders as their teachers:  generosity, patience, perseverance and honing of skills with side by side encouragement and mentoring by the Elders. Our measures of achievement must also reflect and value the importance of culture, language, and a connection to the land and the ancestors.

Maxwell features a special drum passed down from his Elders and family and shares, “you've given me hope so that I will follow your path, I will dance to your drum, it's made me who I am.”

These projects hit the mark related to our goals for our students. Our music videos gave our students a voice to share their truth and lived experiences and to challenge a wide audience to hear them, to be part of the calls to action for all Canadians, as aboriginal and non-aboriginal people walk forward together. As educators, we lead the way as we strive to provide unique opportunities for students to connect with their culture and claim our schools and communities as a place they belong.

Micah compels us “we're sharing these stories we hope you care to listen? There is wisdom in the pain that we've bared to witness, we are the change in our everyday decisions, the future is secure, and we're not afraid to live it.”

Darlene MacDonald, District Principal
ABORIGINAL EDUCATION