The incoming class of Grade 8 students are welcomed to CHSS with a traditional feast. (Submitted)

Welcoming new students to high school with a traditional feast

Second annual Tsimshian feast was hosted by Prince Rupert’s Charles Hays Secondary School

As summer approaches, many students in Prince Rupert look forward to the end of the school year. For the Grade 8 class of 2018, they’ll soon be leaving middle school behind.

The students of Charles Hays Secondary School helped welcome their soon-to-be peers by hosting a traditional Ts’msyen feast on June 6.

“It was a great celebration. Another successful year,” said Roberta Edzerza, the district principal for Aboriginal Education.

It’s the second year the Transitions Luulgit (learning feast) has been held by CHSS for new-coming students, and the new tradition is expected to be an annual event. It began as part of the three-year Aboriginal Enhancement Network Inquiry 10 B.C. schools participated in.

“We wondered if they were coming to Charles Hays and feeling like they were already a part of the school, would that help them stay in school?” CHSS principal Sandy Pond said.

READ MORE: Tsmishian mural takes shape inside Charles Hays Secondary School

The importance of the feast is two-fold, Edzerza said. It’s meant to help the middle schoolers transition to Grade 9, through learning about Ts’msyen feasts.

“It’s the territory of the Ts’msyen people. It’s sharing of the culture of the land we reside on. It’s also part of the new curriculum, which is wonderful for everyone,” she said.

Many students were involved in every aspect of the event. From CHSS’s cooking program to the art classes, the tech students photographing and recording the feast, and the Sm’algyax language class.

Older students called out the names of the new students as they came in the door, then a speech about the territory was given. Student drummers performed, then the feast of traditional soup and buns was served. The multi-purpose room’s new mural by Kelli Clifton was blessed by Ben Spencer, and all of the new students parted with a gift: leather wellness pouches carrying the advice of graduating students.

“Everybody was a part of it,” Edzera said. “In the leading up to, the Grade 8 students are learning about the steps of feasting… It’s just one area that will help with their transition, another opportunity for them to get in the door in a welcoming celebration to honour the Grade 8s as the guests of the feast.”

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



keili.bartlett@thenorthernview.com

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