Tuesday, April 7, marked the second annual Day of Sucwentwecw in School District 73, an initiative that acknowledges the Secwepemc and Nlaka’ pamux Nations, their traditional territories and histories.
The theme for this year was “Connecting to the Land”, which was based on one of the First Nations’ principles of learning: “Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors.”
Once again, the day was marked by the hosting of assemblies in all district schools. Each school has the opportunity to invite an Elder or representative from the Secwepemc / Nlak’ pamuk community to be part of their assembly. Schools in Logan Lake recognized and acknowledged the traditional territories of the Nlaka’pamux People.
All 42 schools in the district received a Day of Sucwentwecw resource package for the event.
Locally, students from Barriere Secondary and Neqweyqwelsten School in Chu Chua joined together with students at Barriere Elementary for an assembly celebrating ‘Our Connections to the Land”.
A group of drummers from the Neqweyqwelsten School drummed as students and guests entered the gymnasium where the walls where decorated with artwork created by students and Leeann Eustache depicting indigenous wildlife.
Ken Rife, principal at Barriere Secondary opened the assembly stating, “Today schools across School district No. 73 are holding assemblies and activities to honor and recognize the Secwepemc and Nlak’pamuk territory as well as other First Nations and Aboriginal groups. In the Kamloops Thompson School District. This is now known as the “Day of Sucwentwecw;” it means to acknowledge one another. During this day, events, activities and assemblies are being held to recognize and teach students about the traditional aboriginal and First Nations territories and the histories of the original peoples School District 73 occupies.”
Following a presentation by Taylynn Eustache and Kiera Eustache, guest speaker Fred Fortier, who is a Band Counselor with the Simpcw First Nation, addressed the assembly. He spoke about some of the dark history of his people, and the injustices and suffering that befell them.
“We are here today, with our language, our songs, dances and our culture,” said Fortier, “We want to thank our Elders who have fought for our rights and freedom in this place we call Canada.”
In his closing remarks Barriere Elementary principal Gordon Cumming said, “As we reflect on today’s acknowledgement of one another, we need to keep the memories of today in our minds and souls and carry with us the importance of acknowledgement and partnership. We are proud to be able to host and present a ‘Day of Sucwentwecw’, bringing our people together and celebrating ‘Our Connections to the Land’ . I wish to thank all of you for attending and for making this event a success.”