Pemberton Secondary School SD#48 Sea to Sky

I. General Information

School Name: Pemberton Secondary School

School District: SD#48 Sea to Sky

Inquiry Team Members: Steve Evans (
Tanina Williams (
Brianne Aldcroft (
Heather Quamme (
Stephanie Soo (
Allison Deruiter (
Chris Britt (
Jodie Petruzzellis (
Emma Mullings (
Cheryl Dolan (

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Transitions Study

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

Curricular Areas Addressed: Mathematics / Numeracy, Science, Social Studies, Other: Lil’wat Principles of Learning

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), First Peoples Principles of Learning, Other: Lil’wat Principals of Learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Rethinking staff learning and engagement using the Lil’wat Principles of Learning, as articulated by Dr. Lorna Williams.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: As mentioned in our earlier (and very late) submission, the scanning process for us this year was extended as a result of some staffing shifts and one staff member (Steve Evans) being away at UBC pursuing a PhD in Educational Studies. This was further complicated by some health challenges from other staff members. This presented a different path that ultimately feels quite generative as it forced us to slow down, rethink relations and make new connections.

This resulted in more meaningful dialogue around aligning our learning as a school, and how that relates on a deeper level to the Lil’wat Principles of Learning, as articulated by Dr. Lorna Williams. This took place in two separate spaces: as a staff team at PSS and also through Steve’s preliminary PhD work, both in dialogue and relation with the Lil’wat Nation. These parallel paths informed our scanning process, and we believe this is helping us to re-think our pedagogical entanglements and ongoing learning. This also helped to guide us in the reflection of the guiding questions. Below are the specific Lil’wat Principles that showed up for us in different ways.

Kamúcwkalha – acknowledging the felt energy indicating group attunement and the emergence of a common group purpose
Celhcelh – each person being responsible for their own and others learning, always seeking learning opportunities
Cwelelep – recognizing the need to sometimes be in a place of dissonance and uncertainty, heightened awareness, so as to be open to new learning
Emháka7 – encouraging each of us to do the best we can at each task given to us

Due to our school being situated on unceded Lil’wat Territory, and that many of our students come from Lil’wat and St̓át̓y̓emc Nations, it feels far more relevant for us to engage in the Lil’wat Principles than the OECD principles of learning, although there is some alignment.

Focus: Our overall focus this year can be articulated as: ‘to develop kamúcwkalha so that students and staff will feel group attunement, have a common purpose, and feel safe to express their views’. For many of us, this also aligns with ‘Cwelelep’, the ability to sit comfortably uncomfortable in a place of dissonance as we work through our own complicity in colonialism in education. This focus arose out of our discussions with staff and community members. We hope that this can exist as a framework to return to as we follow a meandering path of unlearning-relearning education in a rural context, that works toward centering Lil’wat and St’at’imc epistemologies and ontologies.

Hunch: The larger reason for focusing on this path of learning, that includes Kamúcwkalha, Celhcelh, Cwelelep and Emháka7, is in recognition of the ongoing complexity, contradictions and paradoxes of seeking to rethink or ‘decolonize’ education in our rural context on Lil’wat Territory. Despite best intentions, there are a number of ongoing tensions that have been shared. The hope is to seek to understand, humbly hold and respectfully work through; recognizing that this will take many years. However, this is not to absolve ourselves as educators of a very real and present imperative to be vulnerable and exist in a space of Cwelelep. This involves a recognition that the larger complexity at play is to do with multiple ways of knowing (epistemology) and multiple ways of being (ontology); this sounds simple, but in praxis, is very complicated and permeates into a great many facets of how a school community interacts. This includes a great deal of things including how we conceptualize learning, history, science, legacies of colonization and much more. This particular focus area is an effort to foster a space to grapple with these questions, tensions and complexities. Of particular interest are a great many contributions that have been made by staff, based on their observations which can best be represented as connecting to ‘wicked problems’ or hyper complex and often systemic issues that often intersect. This includes seeking a balance between fostering safe spaces and promoting inclusion, flexibility and accountability, and re-considering how best to educate staff on trauma informed and other pedagogical practices.

New Professional Learning: Avenues of professional learning have taken place in these forms:

  • Fostering a staff community through sharing knowledge and understandings around the Lil’wat Principles of Learning
  • Anti-racism education
  • Mentoring of new teachers
  • Lil’wat cultural education (with the newly hired Lil’wat Indigenous Support Worker)
  • PhD coursework (Steve Evans)

Taking Action: Areas of action and future learning specifically for education staff:

  • Foster a greater understanding of how we are in relationship with the land
  • Foster a deeper understanding of colonialism and its ongoing legacy
  • How might we better embody the Lil’wat Principles into teaching and learning?
  • Navigating the complexities of culturally relevant and meaningful individualized learning supports
  • As a learning community, how do we sit with and learn to better engage in complexity?
  • How might we engage with complexity to re-think our practice amidst hyper-complex issues that impact our students and community?

Checking: As previously mentioned, this was a complicated year for us, but brought with it its own teachings that feel meaningful for the path ahead. In relation to this, if we consider the teaching of Cwelelep, it becomes important that we not be satisfied and not consider our learning along a linear trajectory. Instead, if we relate our learning back to the spiral, it then folds back on itself where we can recognize our successes in opening dialogue, re-thinking engagement and perhaps fostering a space of future learning and engagement.

Reflections/Advice: This form of inquiry projects takes many different forms in different places and at different times. That has been the case for us, but has served for several of us as a background guide to be more intentional in our own learning. This could be thought of as a container from which to make space and promote dialogue. I think that where we are at now is a greater realization of the beautiful and challenging hyper-complexity of our learning community and that working toward Kamúcwkalha provides a powerful framework to guide future learning. Widening the circle and following this path is where we likely see ourselves going next.