Smithers Secondary School SD#54 Bulkley Valley

I. General Information

School Name: Smithers Secondary School

School District: SD#54 Bulkley Valley

Inquiry Team Members: Julie Krall –
Shirley White –
Helen Erickson –

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: Not applicable

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Social and emotional learning, Transitions

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? We celebrated and shared our school learning about Truth and Reconciliation, by creating artifacts to be placed in a Bentwood Box Time Capsule.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: We continued our project by conducting a school-wide survey, as well as personal student interviews, in June 2022. In September, our staff worked together to review and analyze the data collected in the previous school year. This analysis informed our focus and next steps for this school year.

Focus: We decided on our focus based on our understanding of the importance of a positive meso narrative. We hope that our current students, as well as students new to SSS, will arrive with a sense of belonging and a belief in their success. We hope they will see their personal and cultural identity reflected in their school in a positive way.

Hunch: We wondered if the work that we had been doing personally, professionally, as a staff and as a school, was not being heard/noticed by our communities. As a result, the historical narrative and perception about our school continued to be shared in our community. The hard work being done within the school to learn about Truth and Reconciliation, and to respond to the TRC Calls of Action, was not yet transmitted out to our surrounding communities.

New Professional Learning: We worked collaboratively with our pro d committee to organize staff-wide collaboration days. During these days, we reviewed the student data that we collected and identified priorities and developed action plans. One example was, we organized a book club and several staff members read Wayi Wah! By Jo Chrona. We organized 3 school-wide presentations and 4 presentations for families, from the White Hatter. These presentations helped build a better understanding of how to leverage social media in a positive manner, as well as an understanding of the implications and responsibility attached to posts on social media.

Taking Action: We began our work this year by attending to student voice. We used the information shared by students to guide our planning and actions for this year. We worked in collaboration with our school pro d committee and connected our project to our school goals.
Based on students’ feedback, we organized SafeTeen workshops for students in grade 8/9, as well as implemented the Preventure program. We hosted events at our school for Truth and Reconciliation Week, Red Dress Day, and Moose Hide Campaign.

In June 2022, we opened our school time capsule from 20 years ago, which provided a unique opportunity to see glimpses of life and school in our community. As a part of the celebration of the time capsule opening, a teacher in our district spoke and apologized for her colonial actions and approach 20 years ago. In addition, an Indigenous Support worker spoke about the changes that she has seen in our school district in the last 20 years. This review helped us to gain a better understanding and perspective about how far our school has come and how our narrative has/is transforming.

Throughout the year, students worked independently and with their classes to generate a body of work that will be encased in the time capsule, and that will reflect our current school culture. In addition, teachers and students are sharing their work publicly to help share our story with our community. Some examples of items that will be in the time capsule include a red dress quilt, truth and reconciliation podcasts, a student composed book of messages with advice to future gryphons, collections of poetry, and students wrote letters to their future selves.

Photo description: The 3 photos above are of artifacts that were created to be put in the time capsule that will be opened in 20 years.

Some additional actions in our school included all students in grades 10-12 taking an English First Peoples course, our science classes regularly engage in TEK, and we have a 9-12 Interdisciplinary Studies class that focuses on learning through an Indigenous Worldview.

Checking: At this point, our project is still in progress. We are closing the time capsule on June 21st 2023 with amazing results, and we are conducting personal interviews with students. During these interviews we are asking the 4 NOIIE questions, as well as 4 additional questions to inquire about students’ sense of belonging at SSS.

Our initial impressions are that students are noticing the actions we are taking and the changes occurring within our school and community. We are optimistic because we are seeing and hearing formal and informal evidence that our school narrative is positively changing. We are seeing students and families embracing an identity as a gryphon and speaking about positivity, kindness and social responsibility. We are excited that students are speaking up and taking action to be change-makers.

Reflections/Advice: From this inquiry we have learned that it takes everyone, and that to create positive change we need our whole staff. The time capsule served as our focus and was a unifying and common goal. We realized the importance of beginning with student voice and keeping students involved. Connecting our work to our school goals allowed this project to be a part of the fabric of our school and included everyone: SEAs, secretaries, custodians, etc. We also made an active effort to reach out to our parents and families through newsletters and social media, to share and include community members in our journey towards Truth and Reconciliation. This project was not an extra, but a part of the work that we do. This project helped us to appreciate the importance of an organized and repeated structure, so that staff members (returning and new) can keep up with the project and the project stays alive.