Author, Nicola Campbell, who is half Métis and half Interior Salish, spoke to educators at the Wap Sigatgyet Symposium on May 17. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

First ever Indigenous Symposium educates teachers in Prince Rupert

Cedar weaving, drumming for reconciliation and basic Sm’algyax lessons were offered to educators

When author Nicola Campbell went to school she didn’t learn about herself as an Indigenous women, or the history of her people — now as an adult, she’s sharing her story in Prince Rupert at a full-day symposium dedicated to teaching Indigenous ways to educators.

On May 17, inside Charles Hays Secondary School, Campbell spoke with educators from the school district on her work and about the public school system she remembers.

“We didn’t learn about ourselves,” she said, “The public school system had no responsibility and no interest in really learning themselves or teaching about who Indigenous people were right here in B.C.”

For the first time, School District 52, from Prince Rupert to Port Edward, has dedicated a full day to Indigenous education and knowledge put on by Wap Sigatgyet, the Aboriginal education department.

“It’s events like this, you know, I think they’re very important. They’re very important because educators, you know, they work with our children. They open hearts and open minds every day through the teachings that they share, as well as our elders,” she said.

READ MORE: How Prince Rupert schools teach Indigenous language to hundreds of students

Campbell is half Métis and half Interior Salish, she was named after Nicola Valley where she grew up. She writes for children and adults, her most recent book is Yayah, published in 2017.

In the afternoon, Sara Davidson, who co-authored Potlatch as Pedagogy: Learning Through Ceremony with Robert Davidson, spoke to educators.

But the day was full of other activities as well. Sessions included weaving cedar bracelets, learning about the clan and crest system of the Ts’msyen people, a drumming workshop with Marlene Clifton and Mercedes Palozzi, lessons in basic Sm’algyax and so much more.

READ MORE: Indigenous language app launched in Northern B.C.

Roberta Edzerza, the district principal of Aboriginal education, was one the lead organizers for the Wap Sigatgyet Symposium on May 17. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Roberta Edzerza, the district principal of Aboriginal education, shared the personal story of her father, Charlie Carlick, who went to residential school.

“My dad and I are doing a truth before reconciliation and how we can move forward in our healing journey,” Edzerza said.

As one of the lead organizers for the Wap Sigatgyet Symposium, she said they had the two authors come to share their knowledge and to inspire others to be writers, and to look at rich literature by Indigenous authors.

Roberta Edzerza, the district principal of Aboriginal education, shared the personal story of her father, Charlie Carlick, who went to residential school at the Wap Sigatgyet Symposium on May 17. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

“We’re just excited to share our knowledge and we’re proud and we’re honoured to be, you know, amongst everybody, and so enthused about learning and Indigenous ways of knowing to increase our success for our Indigenous students and to increase our knowledge for all learners about Aboriginal education,” she said.

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