Students at St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Chemainus learned a new game June 22, but to Coast Salish people’s – including Halalt, Stz’uminus, Penelakut and Cowichan First Nations classmates – the Bone Game is part of a cultural heritage that goes back centuries.
“Some of our students were quite enthused about this, because it’s an important cultural activity for them,” Principal Bern Muller said.
Elders Gerry Thomas and Jennie Thomas from the Halalt First Nation, accompanied by an elder from Nanaimo, visited the school and taught students about the game.
The objective is for two teams of five players to go back and forth, guessing which hand unmarked batons are concealed in. The first team to collect all the batons by guessing right, wins.
“The goal of the game is to successfully capture all the markers,” Muller explained.
The elders were welcomed into the school by students’ singing, including some phrases in Hul’q’umi’num, the language of the Coast Salish First Nations.
“It’s the first time we’ve done that kind of celebration,” Muller said.
During the morning the elders instructed students in how the Bone Game is played, then the students went outside and put learning into practice on the school grounds.