Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

School Name: Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School

School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Inquiry Team Members: Krista Bryce
Katie Lonsdale
Lisa Rodgers
Tammy Jack
Sarah Chickite

Inquiry Team Contact Email: mboudreau@sd68.bc.ca

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Transitions (focus on Indigenous learner transitions)

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

Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Social Studies

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, Experiential learning, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Indigenous pedagogy, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, Social and emotional learning, Universal design for learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? In what way will providing intentional daily learning opportunities on Snuneymuxw cultural understandings and ways of knowing, increase our students’ sense of belonging and impact their success?

Scanning: Snuneymuxw First Nation, along with Nanaimo-Ladysmith Public Schools, officially unveiled the new Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh (QQS) this 2019-2020 school year; the first of its kind in our school district and possibly in BC.
We discussed the strong need to provide intentional daily learning opportunities about the Snuneymuxw cultural understandings and ways of knowing, to increase our students’ sense of belonging, ultimately impacting their academic success.
During our scanning, we noticed that a significant number of our students are considered both emotionally and academically vulnerable, and struggle to identify QQS as their community school.

Focus: Our school goal is to create a sense of belonging, as well as a sense of identity, allowing those with Snuneymuxw roots to tap into who they are, along with those who are a second nation student or an ally, to understand what it means to be on this land and in this particular time and part of a very distinct history.

Hunch: If we continue to strengthen our own understanding of the Snuneymuxw culture and language, our daily teaching will be infused with this knowledge and will allow our learners to feel more connected to THEIR community and the land?

New Professional Learning:
– Learn the local Hul’qumi’num — the language of Snuneymux First Nation and use in daily teachings
– Embrace and learn from Snuneymux First Nation Elders
– Acknowledge and learn about the local community and land
– Transfer professional learning into student friendly learning experiences
– Support our K-7 learners to engage in play-based experiential learning opportunities
– Use the Six Cedar Tree animals to notice, name and nurture the Core Competencies within our learners
– Explore land-based learning in our surrounding Snuneymuyx community
– Additional activities this year were: 1) Love our Elders- Family Literacy Week, 2) Use our funds and release time to create culture/literacy bins, and 3) Elder Bill White-readings and talks with whole staff to understand the history

Taking Action: Our team continued to engage and participate in the ongoing Oral Language Lessons with our learners weekly, with our Hul’qumi’num language teacher. We also created play-based literacy bins for our learners to make literacy connections to the land and the language. The main action is that we worked together as a collaborative staff to create an emotional, spiritual and intellectual learning environment that honours the teachings of the unceded territory of the Snuneymux people.

Checking: Our learners use Hul’qumi’num in our school on a daily basis. We drum and sing as a school weekly in Hul’qumi’num. Pride and understanding of the local culture has grown through our staff’s collaborative efforts to embrace the oral history and language. Our staff has created two distinct learning bins, 1) Cedar: Snuneymux Weaving and Wisdom and 2) Living on Snuneymux in Harmony (includes play-based resources).

Our families have expressed gratitude and hope when witnessing their child speak of the language of the land and share their knowledge of the natural resources surrounding our school.

Reflections/Advice: Since our school is the first of its kind to be co-governed by the Snuneymux First Nation and Nanaimo Ladysmith Public School, we will continue to enrich our staff and our students with the rich history the land that our school is situated on has to offer. We will also take direction from the community and its Elders. We plan to continue to learn the language and use our new knowledge to create learning resources that support the growth of our learners’ social, emotional and intellectual citizen of the Snuneymux First Nation.

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