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News: Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Gathering at Sumas First Nation Longhouse

Sumas First Nation generously hosted the Abbotsford School District for a day of celebration of student achievement, Halq'emeylem language and culture.  The day started with a Traditional Sto:lo Ceremony to honour our four grade 12 Aboriginal Role Models, Summer from Abbotsford Senior, Shianne from Robert Bateman Secondary, Jaxon from Yale Secondary and Cameron from Yale Secondary.  These students were selected for their cultural pride, school success, leadership and service in their communities. The school district is grateful for the ongoing support of our Aboriginal communities: Matsqui and Sumas First Nation and the Fraser Valley Metis Association.

Next, 45 students from Matsqui Elementary, Upper Sumas Elementary, WA Fraser Middle, Robert Bateman Secondary, Yale Secondary and Abbotsford Senior Secondary presented what they have been learning in Halq'emeylem.  Their presentations were interactive and taught the audience of 500 students and community members new Halq'emeylem  words, greetings and phrases. As part of the new Aboriginal Local Education Agreement, Halq'emeylem instruction is being supported in our schools. As a result of Canada's aggressive assimilation policies and residential schools in particular, the Halq'emeylem language was seriously impacted.  Students from our local communities were honoured as Halq'emeylem S'yo:tel "Warriors" for learning and sharing their indigenous language.  Special guests included local Elders and Aboriginal Community members, the school board chair and trustees, a representative from the Ministry of Education Aboriginal Learning Division Indigenous Languages and other community partners. The day rounded up with students participating in fun learning games to practice Halq'emeylem, and a delicious lunch from Sto:lo Catering. 

The highlight of this event was the opportunity for students to experience the longhouse with Elders present, share in the learning of their peers and to celebrate the achievements of our exceptional young people in a supportive community environment. "Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors and Learning requires exploration of one's identity" from FNESC First People's Principles of Learning.