New paintings celebrate Nuu-chah-nulth culture in ADSS

Deborah Potter, June 14, 2019

On June 11 the Grade 8 and 10 Nuu-chah-nulth class celebrated by unveiling three new paintings that are now hung in the theatre wing of the Alberni District Secondary School. (Deborah Potter photos)

Port Alberni, BC — 

Another school year in the books, and the Grade 8 and 10 Nuu-chah-nulth class celebrated by unveiling three new paintings that are now hung in the theatre wing of ADSS.

Moira Barney, the ADSS Nuu-chah-nulth teacher, with the help of Nuu-chah-nulth Education Worker Geena Sutherland, began a six-week project with their students: three paintings, designed by Jeff Gallic and Kerry Erickson.

Between the students, teachers, and the education workers, there was over 100 hours poured into the paintings. In class time, during lunch period, and after school hours were spent over these pieces, and getting them prepped to hang on June 11th.

The first painting unveiled was one in collaboration with Jake Gallic. With it set around the dam, the painting exudes everything Port Alberni has to offer; a beautiful river, plenty of fish, and breathtaking wildlife.

“It represents the wealth of Tseshaht,” Trevor Little, who was speaking on behalf of Gallic, spoke. “This grounds us.”

The second painting had many meanings. From new generation, to a 10th wave movement, the ocean-based painting encourages generational healing and caring for our rivers and oceans.

The last painting was designed by Kerry Erickson. Her inspiration came from the beauty of Mount Arrowsmith, and the many wildlife that can be found around the community. Erickson also included two dancers dressed in red, to bring awareness to the missing and murdered Indigenous women in the community, and across the nation.

In the 2018/2019 school year, the Nuu-chah-nulth class taught around 115 students, split between 75 in the first semester, and 40 in the second.

This was Barney’s first year teaching the Nuu-chah-nulth class at ADSS, as well as the first Nuu-chah-nulth-speaking teacher in the role.

The curriculum consisted mostly of listening to the Nuu-chah-nulth language, as it was a first-time class for most of the students. In the next school year, Barney says that they will begin learning to speak the language.

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