Maywood Community School SD#41 Burnaby

I. General Information

School Name: Maywood Community School

School District: SD#41 Burnaby

Inquiry Team Members: Marie Stevens, Kathryn Yamamoto, Megan Aprim, Kerri Lanway, Ravena Berar, Sue Hon, Juliana Cipparone

Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Kathryn Yamamoto/

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Areas Addressed:

  • Arts Education
  • Language Arts – Literacy
  • Language Arts – Oral Language
  • Language Arts – Reading
  • Language Arts – Writing
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Focus Addressed:

  • Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation)
  • Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving)
  • First Peoples Principles of Learning
  • Growth mindset
  • Indigenous pedagogy
  • Land, Nature or Place-based learning
  • Social and emotional learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Through telling our own stories, we will focus on how our connections to place and land inform our individual and collective identities and stories.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: We used the 4 key questions to narrow the focus of our inquiry. We pride ourselves in being a school community where everyone is welcome, but were we providing that for our Indigenous learners? The interconnectedness of the FPPL meant that they were a perfect pairing for our learning, as “everything is connected” was a major theme in our identity journeys.

Focus: By telling our own stories and exploring our identities, we hoped to build self-esteem and find commonalities with which our students and staff could connect. We hoped that students would come to understand the roles and impacts they have on their own lives and the lives of others. We wanted students to have a better understanding of who they are.

Hunch: Schools, as they operate today, are unfortunately relics of colonialism. We hoped to begin to decolonize some of our learning and thinking by understanding the importance of the land to Indigenous nations, and how connection to the land is integral to identity. We wanted to help students to see how this is important in their own lives.

New Professional Learning: Our school staff took part in 2 pro-d sessions offered by the district; these were lead by Dustin Louie and Jo Chrona. Each session focused on the past wrongs, decolonizing our thinking, and reconciliation.

Taking Action: We had a school-wide mural project that was completed in collaboration with Katize artist Rain Pierre (Rain Awakens). Every student in the school created an art piece using the guiding themes of nature, community, connectedness, identity, and reconciliation. This was a 5 month project. In June, when the mural was unveiled, all student art work was put on display in the hallways – art gallery style – for everyone to explore. We hosted a gallery walk for the classes, that included the mural, so they could make connections between their lived artistic experiences and those of others.

Photo (above): Division 2 artists creating images to represent their identity and connection to the natural world. Such care and attention to detail as they draft their ideas for an “identity tattoo.” (photo credit: Kathryn Yamamoto)

Photos (above): This is during our mural unveiling with Katzie artist Rain Pierre (Rain Awakens).
The students are showing which part of the mural includes their personal art. (photo credit: Marie Stevens)

Checking: As a result of the work I did as the Indigenous Literacy Inquiry Teacher, I made deeper connections with almost every one of our Indigenous learners. These students would often seek me out to chat, to find comfort, and to ask questions.
From the whole school perspective, the staff and students were invested in the work of the mural project and the excitement grew as the momentum of the project grew. On the day that the mural was unveiled, crowds of students came to admire the mural, to congratulate their friends for their art being on the mural, and to take pictures with their family. There was a definite sense of belonging and connectedness, and a stronger community identity. The steps we have taken with our learning this year are now on display for the community to see, and we have made definitive steps in being committed to focusing on reconciliation.

Reflections/Advice: We hope to continue on a similar theme of identity and telling our stories. We wish to honour their stories, and give them voice, agency and an opportunity to share their personal narrative to strengthen their identity.

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