First Nations Talking Circle

We were pleased to welcome First Nations presenters, Dawn and Lori, to our classroom last week.  We were priviledged to hear some of their personal stories, as well as share our own.  We learned that humans are given 2 eyes for looking, 2 ears for listening, but only 1 mouth for talking… because we should WATCH and  LISTEN twice as often as we SPEAK!  Dawn wore her beautiful button blanket coat. Her cedar bark hat had a real eagle feather on it!

 Trust, Honor, and Respect are very important words… and we made the connection with our own “Nestor Pride” motto, to be eNcouraging, rEsponsible, Safe, Trustworthy, hOnest, and Respectful!  We took 4 turns around the Talking Circle, each one with a different focus.  In the center of the circle was a magic fire that we made burn with our imagination and by rubbing our hands really fast! 

East is the color yellow signifying new beginnings.  It is the time of the Child; a time of learning and fun. South is the color black.  It is the time of the Young Warrior. Our teens have the hardest time in life.  It is the time when you need  to listen and walk with the Earth Mother. West is the color red. The time of the Warrior is a time of responsibility and a time of protection and patience.  North is the color white, which honours the Elders.  It is a time of humour and understanding… a time of wisdom and a time of understanding that wisdom is a gift of birth not always earned with age. (Thank you, Dawn, for emailing me this lovely explanation!)

We waited with patience for each student to speak, or to choose not to speak.  Everyone got to take a special stone from the rabbit fur bag and we each got a “magic pencil” that reflected our warmth by changing color when we held it. We learned about being thankful for what you have got, and not asking for something more or something different.


At the end of our time together, Dawn even let Mrs. Boekhout wear the special button blanket and hat! Then she gave our class a REAL Talking Stick made out of rabbit fur and deer skin.  Mrs. Boekhout is going to use it with her ladybug “gratitude stone” for the weekly class meeting!

THANK YOU, Dawn and Lori,
 You shared your First Nations heritage with us
and we learned about the cycles of the great Earth Mother
and we learned lessons of patience and respect for others


Year-End Blog… Christmas Activities

It’s hard to believe that the Christmas ‘frenzy’ is already over, and we are on to “Happy New Year”!!! We had a wonderful school-time end to 2011 (can you believe that it will be 2012 when we return to school?)

I have to admit that I felt a lot of nostalgia watching my current students in our videos as I put together our “year-end” blog.  It makes me think of a saying that reminds us to treat the “Present” as a “Gift”.  When I look at these delightful young children (no where near knowing where their lives will take them) I feel a good deal of happiness knowing that this was one of the “good times” in their school experiences.

Let’s start with a “Pot Pourri” of some of our activities!


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Next comes our “Yule Log” Christmas gift to our families.


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Finally, the “Best of the Best”… the songs from our Christmas Concert!


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Merry Christmas
Happy New Year!

Dancers of Damelahamid

What a marvellous performance our school enjoyed this week!  The Dancers of Damelahamid not only danced and sang, but also shared some of their rich First Nations culture with us.  It was such an entertaining way to learn about some of their traditions!

We are a Gitksan dance collective originally from the Skeena River area in north western BC. The Gitksan are part of the northwest coastal group of cultures that have the distinctive button blanket regalia. We perform with intricately carved & painted masks, headdresses and elaborate regalia. “ You can find more information and photos at their website

The Artistic Director, Margaret Grenier, was truly a gracious narrator and a very elegant dancer.  (Her hand movements were exquisite!) She explained the stories behind the dances and spoke of how the Gitksan people respect and honour our earth.  


We had several favourite dances.  We loved the dance about the chirping birds saving the land from a plague of grasshoppers.  (One of our students is of aboriginal ancestry and we found out that her name means “grasshopper”!!!)  We enjoyed watching a few volunteers get to try out some of the dance movements at the front, but the audience was so excited to call out the “cheep cheep cheep” of the birds that we did it at all the wrong times! We also enjoyed seeing the Raven dance. The clacking sound of the wooden Raven mask made everyone laugh.  The “Happy Dance” really spread its joy outward!.  The audience couldn’t stop themselves from imitating the hand movements!

One of the connections that we made with the performance was with our MATH LEARNING!  There were so many PATTERNS!  The gorgeous regalia (ceremonial dress) were filled with beautiful patterns of buttons, fringes, and animal skins.  The drumming had a strong beat of repeated patterns.  The songs and dances were all in patterns too!  After our weekly sing-along, our class used the multi-purpose room to try out one of the dance patterns ourselves!  It was the paddling song and here is how we did it. First we stood in two diagonal lines.  The dance steps were 1) hold your (imaginary) paddle up,  2) drop your paddle to the side (one line drops left and the other line drops right), 3) take a long deep step forward.   This pattern (AAB) is repeated over and over. After a few steps, the two lines intersect and we have to “weave through” each other.  What a great way to study patterns!



Photos are from the website