Elder project reaching next generation

New poetry book to be released in June

Hot off the heels of a very successful project and book launch, The Elder Project is getting ready to reach a whole new generation of students.

Last year, Chemainus Secondary students were given the chance  to speak with First Nations elders and hear, first-hand about their experiences.

The students helped turn those stories into poems with the help of poet Wendy Morton.

“It was probably one of the most satisfying things I’ve been involved with as an educator,” said Chemainus Secondary principal Ron Nunweiler.

“It brought youth and the older generation together in a literacy project. It was pretty remarkable.”

For many of the students, it was the first time hearing some of their elders’ stories.

“It was pretty powerful to hear their grandparents tell these stories and they had never heard them before.”

The next chapter of the project is going to focus on elementary students from Chemainus, Crofton and Penelakut Island.

The younger students will be mentored by the senior students who have already taken part in the process.

Nunweiler said the students will get working on the project after spring break.

“One of the first things Wendy Morton will be doing is working with the young students just to get them in a pattern of how to put words and ideas together in a format.”

This, said Nunweiler, will help the students build their confidence before talking to the elders.

Nunweiler said the type of poetry the students are doing is very straight forward and honest.

Morton will again help the students with crafting and fine-tuning their poems.

The experience gained during the first project should make this one easier, said Nunweiler, noting they all have a better idea of the time and work needed to complete the project.

The layout and design of the book will be completed during the month of May and the group is planning a book launch for early June.

There will also be a digital version available online.

Nunweiler said the school was pleased to welcome a large section of the First Nations community into the school during the first project and are looking forward to their involvement again.

“This was the first time we really had a larger number of our First Nation’s family into our school.”

For a copy of the first Elder Project, visit www.chemainussecondary.bc.ca/First_Nations.html.