“We would like to bring aboriginal education to the forefront of our school’s journey. We would like to continue a conversation with our school community about truth… about reconciliation.”
Those are the opening words to a poster about nutsumaat syaays, which means “working together as one” in the Coast Salish language of the Stz’uminus First Nation.
It’s the spirit behind a year-long project at Ladysmith Secondary School which will see Stz’uminus master carver John Marston installing a Coast Salish welcome figure in the foyer of the school.
The journey is part of the story, though, and the carving will be an educational experience and ‘transformative journey’ from start to finish.
“We would like to have that 20’ tall figure carved in the foyer of our building,” says an information sheet from the school.
“We would like that carving to take place in a traditional Coast Salish house in the foyer of the school, accompanied by the teachings of elders.”
Said LSS Principal Margaret Olsen, “The nutsumaat syaays is an exciting project.”
A grant of $10,000 from Artists in the Classroom will help get things started. Timberwest has donated a 40 foot red cedar log, which was transported to Ladysmith, where it is being stored so that it can dry naturally. Community members and partners have donated $25,000 in materials and labour.
That’s a great start which “brings together the Ladysmith community with the Stz’uminus First Nation community in a year-long cultural art project,” says an information release.
But more is needed – $50,000 more – to reach the $75,000 nutsumaat syaays fundraising goal.
“This project cannot succeed without the kindness and generosity of our partners,” say organizers. People interested in the project, and anyone wanting to support it, can contact Moira Dolen or William Taylor at 250-245-3043.