I. General Information

School Name: Burnaby North Secondary

School District: SD#41 Burnaby

Inquiry Team Members: Katie Coughlin: Katie.Coughlin@burnabyschools.ca
Lorelei Lyons: Lorelei.Lyons@burnabyschools.ca
Barry Callister: Barry.Callister@burnabyschools.ca
Jerome Claudio: Jerome.Claudio@burnabyschools.ca
Claire Davis: Claire.Davis@burnabyschools.ca
Claire Michaels: Claire.Michaels@burnabyschools.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: Maria.Nicolidakis@burnabyschools.ca

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Transitions Study

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Areas Addressed: Other: Cross-Curricular with English/Indigenous Leadership

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Flexible learning, Indigenous pedagogy, Land, Nature or Place-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? This year we had cross-curricular lessons on harvesting cedar, which allowed multi-grades and multi-classes to have more land-based learning, Indigenous pedagogy and understanding, which included community Elders.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

We have an amazing team of Indigenous Success Teachers – Lorelei Lyons and Katie Coughlin. They have worked with our Indigenous students for the past 3 years and have also connected with many non-Indigenous students now that we have created an Indigenous focused Leadership course, as well as offer English First Peoples at the grade 10 level.

WHY ARE YOU LEARNING AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? It is clear that our students have wanted more authentic ways of knowing for both our Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners. Last year, we were part of a BC Hydro initiative where cedar logs were given to local schools. We invited a Squamish Elder (Elder Alice Guss) who came and taught a class about the traditions of cedar pulling – although it was only a 10 foot felled log.

WHAT ARE YOUR NEXT STEPS: It was incredibly well received so we then sought out a way to do traditions cedar pulling on a live tree. This allowed our Indigenous students in the Leadership class to be leaders of English classes who also participated. We have also dried the cedar and will be continuing work with the cedar in the hopes of bringing in cedar weavers next year to work with students.

Focus: We want to have more experiential learning that is authentic to First Peoples Principles and Ways of Knowing. Creating opportunities to go out onto the land and have Elders teach our students how to pull cedar, how to do it ethically, and how important cedar is (the tree of life in the Coast Salish Tradition) was an important aspect for our students understanding the world around them. We hoped that learning the science behind how the cedar was harvested, what it meant and how important cedar was (as opposed to so many other trees), would bring an understanding of how important the environment is around them, like how the tree only offers up what it can give (the bigger lesson is that we should consume only what we need).

Hunch: We are always trying ways to incorporate Ceremony and Indigenous ways of knowing into our school’s culture, as we feel that this is something that is important. Any time we can make it authentic, we will try to do so.

New Professional Learning: Getting permission to peel cedar was actually a bit more difficult than we thought. We contacted the municipality and were told flat out “no”. We were finally able to go to the North Shore and had Elders help us.

Taking Action: We were very persistent with this. We found the right people to go with, and asked around for connections to our local Coast Salish Community (something that we are continually working to build), which allowed us to get contacts to do this. We always keep in touch with Elders in the community to make sure that we strengthen the connections.

Checking: The difference between having the cedar pulled from a log that was felled, to going into the forest and doing it on the live tree, was profound for our students. The ability to see that this is something that is still done, that Knowledge Keepers and Elders exist and have been so generous in supporting opportunities to actually have hands-on experiences, makes it real.

Photo descriptions: (Top & Middle) Students pulling cedar off live trees this year. (Bottom) Students pulling the cedar bark from a felled log donated by BC Hydro with Elder Alice Guss.

Reflections/Advice: We have found that connecting with the Coast Salish Nations of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish, have been incredibly rewarding for our students who are Indigenous and non-Indigenous. We are continuing to create opportunities for ceremonies (we have a new school building that we are hoping to have ceremony on our Welcome Post – we had a smaller one to wake up the post before installation), where we will invite members of the Coast Salish Community.