Indigenous Studies brings old and new concepts to the classroom

Deborah Potter, March 11, 2019

Sebastian Sutherland holds a mask he made in the Indigenous Studies class at the Eighth Ave Learning Centre on March 7, (Deborah Potter photos)

Port Alberni, BC — 

The Indigenous Studies Grade 11/12 class at the Eighth Ave Learning Centre came to an exciting end as the students held a coffee and tea party to display their final projects: masks.

There were 13 registered students for the course, and 11 plaster masks on display, each one with a different flair. Teachers Richard Samuel and Keith Holm encouraged the students to make the masks mean something to them.

Raya Holcome, Grade 11 student, painted her mask a light blue colour, to portray the idea of fresh water.

“Lots of reserves in Canada are on boiled water advisory,” Holcombe explained to Hashilthsa. “We all deserve fresh drinking water.”

The first year of the Indigenous Studies class was a huge success, according to Vice-principal Julie Anderson, and will most likely continue in the 2019-2020 school year.  

The course consisted of several history projects, learning multiple Nuu-chah-nulth phrases, and some local elders were invited to speak about residential schools, their childhood, and the modern Indigenous government in comparison to traditional band government. There was supposed to be a field trip to Victoria to attend the moose hide campaign and visit the Royal BC Museum, but the snow dump in early February hindered those plans and it was forced to be cancelled.

While the course had a focus on local Nuu-chah-nulth history, Holm hopes that for next year they can connect more with the community and attend more traditional events.

Photo Gallery: