Teacher Laura Sewid hands out information to board of education chair Richard Franklin about the new First Nations kindergarten immersion program. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Sixteen registered for Indigenous kindergarten program in Campbell River

Program uses four seasons model and incorporates wildlife wisdom and cultural activities

School District 72’s new Liq’wala/Kwak’wala kindergarten is ready to go with 16 students registered to start in September.

The work to develop the immersion program is well underway, according to Laura Sewid, who will be the teacher for the program when it opens at Ripple Rock Elementary.

So far, she has been working one day a week with Dana Roberts, who will work with Sewid in the classroom, and Emily Aitken, who is the language advisor, to put together a curriculum for the program.

“That’s an exciting team of people around me,” she told trustees at a recent board of education meeting. “I’m not the language piece, but I’m so happy to be in the room because I’ll be able to learn it as well.”

The curriculum will be delivered using the model of the four seasons and will incorporate wildlife wisdom and cultural activities.

“Everything for each planning sheet is by the season,” she said, as she handed out copies to board members and senior staff.

RELATED STORY: Campbell River school to get Indigenous immersion program

Students will focus on core competencies in the classroom, and their English literacy skills will be developed in parallel to their oral language skills in Liq’wala/Kwak’wala.

For Sewid, the program offers her a chance to integrate professional with personal life.

“This is a chance for me to dream what’s possible and now to create it,” she said. “My whole life has prepared me for this, ultimately.”

As a mother, she wishes the kindergarten program had been around for her children. Twenty-five years ago, she married into a First Nations family and her father-in-law is a hereditary chief. She has absorbed the culture over that time, planning pot-latches and learning much from her elders.

“I actively worked to be with elders…. I used to spend a lot of time sitting with the old ladies,” she said.

People now ask her about protocol and button blankets because of her experience.

Sewid was excited to talk about the inception of the program as well as running into her idol, Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, of Reconciliation Canada, also the person who gave Sewid her native name when she married. She had been meeting with assistant superintendent Nevenka Fair and district principal of Indigenous education Greg Johnson about the immersion program when she saw Joseph in the hallway.

RELATED STORY: Indigenous students grad rates on the rise

She took it as a sign of her future with the program as Joseph asked her what he could do to help her.

“I know him as Bobby Joe. Bobby Joe and my father-in-law were best friends,” she said.

Sewid also started a project called Wildlife Wisdom three years ago, and she can integrate this material into the curriculum by blending concepts around the four animals she focused on and their traits into the work with the seasons. She also ties these in with concepts in other areas such as math, science and social studies.

“The other thing that’s awesome is that we’ll able to do more cultural activities,” she said.

Following the presentation, trustee Kat Eddy, who had visited Sewid’s classroom, commended her on her work and the atmosphere she creates.

“I think that you are a great fit to launch this program,” she said.

Just Posted

Storm add big net presence to roster

Goalie Robert Michetti boasts impressive numbers

Two Campbell River First Nations advance to final stage of treaty negotiation

The Campbell River-based Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah First Nations have signed… Continue reading

City of Campbell River to replace pumper truck at No. 2 Hall

Old truck to be moved into reserve roll for five years before decision is made on disposal options

PHOTOS: Cumberland Wild embraces diverse musical talents

Day 1 of the two-day music festival took place Saturday

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

Most Read