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Students learn Indigenous teachings and culture

Elementary school students in the Valley got the chance to learn about localIndigenous traditions, culture and history from First Nation speakers.

Classes, typically from Grade 3-5, met at the Tseshaht long house where they learnt about First Nations governance from Wally Samuel, Tseshaht whaling history from Aaron Watts and traditional plant and food uses from Nitanis Desjarlais.

Desjarlais said she even had cougar and moose meat to offer the students.

“They all wanted to eat it,” she said. “I wasn’t even thinking they would try it.”

While learning about traditional harvesting, students had the opportunity to sample plants and smell oils.

Richard Samuel, Nuu-chah-nulth education worker at Eighth Avenue LearningCentre, said all elementary schools in the district were invited to participate.

Samuel said the direction of the new BC Curriculum is to integrate First Nations perspectives and history in all aspects of the subjects being taught.

Aaron Watts of the Tseshaht First Nation, demonstrated traditional song and dance for the students as well as sharing Indigenous history and culture.

“Being connected to your history and knowing where you come from means you’ll know where you’re going,” Watts said. “Our culture and history is very rich and it’s been passed on throughout the generations and we still hold that very close.”

Watts said many of the Indigenous teachings, songs and dances are hundreds of years old and teaching them to students at a young age will help preserve the culture for the next generation to pass on.

“If we never did that our culture would have gone to sleep and that would have been very unfortunate,” Watts said.

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