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Elementary students experience TFN culture

Three local schools visit longhouse to bring classroom curriculum to life with variety of demonstrations

Under the high-vaulted wood ceiling of the Tsawwassen First Nation's longhouse, hundreds of Grade 4 and 5 students immerse themselves in history and culture.

At one end of the building, TFN member Mable Williams describes the significance of cedar weaving, wood paddles and related aboriginal arts and crafts.

A class of students eagerly pays attention, chiming in with questions here and there.

This class is one of several classes visiting the TFN longhouse from Cliff Drive, Hawthorne and Ladner elementary schools.

All of these schools have TFN children who attend, so both the TFN and the schools thought it would be a great idea to introduce the broader school communities to the local First Nations culture.

"We realized over the years how valuable it is when we invite local classrooms down to the longhouse to experience a day in the life of Tsawwassen First Nation culture and history," said Peggy McLeod, one of the organizers of the event and a TFN education programmer.

The Grade 4 curriculum includes a focus on First Nations history and culture, so a hands-on field trip exemplifying what students learn in class is ideal. This longhouse experience enables students to interact with various aspects of First Nations life. Williams' cedar weaving station is one of six set up to educate the children.

Delta Secondary graduate and TFN member Bryce Williams demonstrates the art of woodcarving. He shows students the tools needed to carve and displays some of his work.

In addition to cedar weaving and woodcarving, students are also learning about canoe journeys, the history of the longhouse, the history of TFN traditional lands and the importance of salmon to local First Nations.

Following visits to each educational station, students were treated to a traditional First Nations feast of fish soup, salmon and bannock.

The students were also privileged to witness aboriginal drumming and singing throughout the day.

"The students love it," said McLeod regarding the overall experience of the day.

The Tsawwassen First Nation hopes to host this event for local students again next year and into the future.

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