Children, parents and staff of École du Pacifique and École Secondaire Chatelech (francophone) were welcomed by elders, artists and other representatives of the shíshálh First Nation (Sechelt First Nation) in the longhouse Monday, June 14, as part of the school's tenth anniversary celebrations and the Sechelt francophone program's 20th anniversary celebrations.
Elders Teresa Jeffries and Anne Quinn gifted the school with a shashishalhem name, yúm-ach (pronounced "you-mawtch"), which means chinook salmon (also referred to as spring, king or tyee). The school community had requested a shíshálh name to celebrate the 10th and 20th anniversaries and to help introduce more local aboriginal culture into the daily lives of the pupils.
The Xwanstut ambassadors performed songs and conducted a tour of the longhouse for the 200 students, parents and community members in attendance. Elders and others involved in the school's aboriginal education program were gifted with five white eagle feathers and three primary feathers artistically beaded by shíshálh grandmother Grace Paul, who was "blanketed" with a spirit bear blanket by high school francophone aboriginal students Caelen Reader, Rowan Baker-French and Felix McClean. Quinn and Jeffries were also blanketed.
Sechelt First Nation Coun. Jordan Louie was on hand to represent the chief and council. Principal Caroline Picard together with Grade 1 aboriginal student Isabel Diebel and her mother Jena Day Diebel presented Louie with a yellow cedar double-headed eagle carving by local artist Jaimie Jeffries as a sign of appreciation for the chief and council authorizing the school to use the name. Jeffries was on hand to also present a commemorative work to the school depicting two salmon in a circle with a round mirror at the centre to represent a salmon egg. When children and others view the carving they will see their reflection at the centre, which is meant to convey that every one of us is part of the salmon egg and we are individually and collectively responsible for the stewardship of this precious natural resource.
Sechelt Nation fisherman David Quinn authorized the school to use an aboriginal art logo designed by Bradley Hunt, the Helsiuk artist who led the designing and carving of the totem pole in front of the school in Sechelt in 1984. The logo, commissioned by Quinn several years ago, depicts a topographical view of the salmon cycle painted on a cedar hat.
The schools' aboriginal students then presented each of the 200 children and other attendees with commemorative pins and gifts. The event concluded with a round dance led by shíshálh youth who invited everyone to join in.