School and Community News – Sipekne’katik

Story and photos submitted by Sharon Culbertson

The end of this crazy school year has finally arrived.  It has been quite the year starting with in-class learning, then students going back online to complete their virtual classes, then being told that our school year will be ending a couple of weeks early due to Covid numbers, and finally returning to in-class learning at the end of the year.  It was a struggle!  Many classrooms were packed up and cleaned up in preparation for the summer break. Staff and students had to unpack and prepare for in-class learning… again.  This final week of classes has been dedicated to doing all the packing and sorting… again.  I must say how proud I am of our staff and students for how well they are coping with this whole Covid situation.  And I am also proud of the fact that the majority of our staff are vaccinated… with some fully vaccinated or soon to be fully vaccinated.  And thank you to our youth who took advantage of the 12 and older vaccination program.  Also, thank you Sipekne’katik Health!!!
Our school honoured the 215 children who were found in a mass grave on the site of a Kamloops Residential School, by wearing their orange shirts and creating a special garden.  Staff purchased 215 orange flowers which were planted by students.  Our “turtle” garden has the orange flowers planted around it and the second garden is in the shape of a double-edge curve.  The second garden was completed by Grade 5 teacher, Mrs. Rae Williams, and her mother, Ms. Tammy Wilson, who just happens to be our substitute EA.  Thank you ladies.
In addition to the orange shirts and flowers, many students attended the sacred fire outside of our pow-wow arbour.  This was an excellent opportunity for students and staff to make an offering and talk about the trauma that the residential schools have caused to our families. 
Mr. Greg Marr and Mi’kmaw language students planted some white pine trees.  The school received 500 trees.  Our community was contacted to see who would like a new tree planted on their property.  Mr. Marr and students were very successful in planting the trees.
Another activity was the exchange of paper quilts.  Our grade three class connected with the grade three class from Halifax Grammar.  In addition to the paper quilts, bracelets and letters were exchanged.  Way to go Ms. Ambrah MacNeil and grade three!!!  What an excellent way to share who we all are as a people.
Next, I would like to congratulate the winners of our first Heritage Fair.  Many students started their projects at school, but when we went back to online learning, they had to use their resourcefulness to complete and present their slideshows.  I was fortunate enough to assist with the judging and I must say, they were all amazing.  The focus for the projects was our own community.  I learned a great deal about Sipekne’katik and our elders.  Congratulations to…1st place:  OUR ELDER INTERVIEW – Emmaline Knockwood, Kennedy Syliboy and Dakota Maloney (grade 4)2nd place:  TANNING HIDES – Fiercen White (grade 6)3rd place:  FISHING WITH THE MI’KMAQ – Malaki Maloney (grade 6)
Finally, I want to congratulate our grads, who will be participating in the modified ceremony tomorrow (June 25th).  Congratulations to Kassidy Augusine (who happens to be the valedictorian), Kispesan Julian and Zoe Paul.  Ladies, you did an amazing job during such a challenging year.  LSK is very proud of you all.
In closing, I want to wish everyone a very restful and safe summer break!!  This break is well deserved.  And thank you to all our administration staff, students, teachers, Educational Assistants, kitchen staff, custodians and support staff.  Your ability to deal with this year was absolutely amazing!!!