Comox Valley students taught to honor Indigenous language

One man’s legacy and one Indigenous language will forever be preserved in a beautifully crafted children’s picture book.

Nineteen young Indigenous students from Puntledge Park Elementary have transformed the First Nation’s words of a song written and gifted to Comox Valley Schools into a colourful picture book.

Last Friday, the children unveiled their colourful creation during a special ceremony held in the school courtyard to an audience of school trustees, parents, staff, and fellow classmates.

The book, titled Little Giwas, is part of a learning journey for Colleen Devlin, Indigenous Education kindergarten/Grade 1 teacher, who recently began to learn Kwakʼwala, a dialect spoken among 250 Indigenous people approximately of the Pacific Northwest Coast. The impetus to Devlin’s studies was the United Nations Declaration made in January that 2019 be the Year of Indigenous Languages.

The song is called A̱ m’lala sa Ḵ̱̓ umux̱ se, meaning Play Song of the K’omoux (Comox), written by William Wasden Jr., a First Nations singer/songwriter and artist. The song celebrates the Kwakʼwala culture, and speaks of the unique landscape of mountains, ocean, rivers, as well as the wildlife that inhabit Vancouver Island.

“The importance of any acts of reconciliation and reclaiming a First Nations culture is to teach and focus on its language. Kwak’wala is one of a number of founding languages in this area,” explained Devlin, who is of Cree-Metis heritage. “If we are to teach students about respecting the land, its animals and the people we need to learn a bit about the language. The song just resonated with me and I thought a picture book would help young students around the district care more deeply about the song if it were linked to our local region.”

The picture book holds another Valley meaning. It was dedicated in memory to Micah John Messent, a former Puntledge student who perished aboard an Ethiopian flight in March at the age of 23. Messent, a Metis native, was a strong advocate for the natural beauty of the Comox Valley where he was raised. He was pursuing a future in environmental stewardship when he was invited to attend UN Assembly of the Environment in Nairobi.

ALSO: Micah Messent remembered as a passionate environmentalist

The book unveiling ceremony commenced with a singing of A̱ m’lala sa Ḵ̱̓ umux̱ se by David Dawson, an Elder-in-Residence and a First Nations native and song keeper. The young students performed a native dance called Little Bear followed by story time that allowed the young artists to showcase their creation to family and friends.

This is the second in a trilogy of books for Devlin. The first, Little U’ligan was created last year by Grade 5 students and is the story of a young wolf. Devlin already has the third book under development to accompany a sensory path that is nearing completion in the school’s courtyard.


Just Posted

Comox Fire Rescue hands out its hardware at annual awards dinner

Comox Fire Rescue recently held its annual awards night, recognizing members for… Continue reading

Comox Valley Schools boundary consultation process delayed

School district has had strong response at meetings and online in response to boundary review

Comox Valley Monarch Lions help SPOT youth vision issues

In 1925, Helen Keller challenged Lions Clubs International to become “Knights of… Continue reading

Comox Valley Community Foundation Gala brings in big bucks

The Comox Valley Community Foundation’s Crimson & Gold Gala, presented by Odlum… Continue reading

Courtenay student lobbies school board for dress code consistency

Jaylene Kuo contacted school trustees after seeing dress guidelines at brother’s school

VIDEO: Ron MacLean says he doesn’t believe former co-host Don Cherry is racist

Sportsnet fired Cherry on Nov. 11, two days after controversial on-air comments during ‘Coach’s Corner’

1 dead, 2 seriously injured in crash with elk on Hwy. 18 in Cowichan

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP were called to the scene at about 8 p.m. Tuesday night

Man accused in fatal Shuswap church shooting also charged with arson

Parmenter family home badly damaged by fire a month before killing

PHOTOS: Patients pelt doctors with snowballs, all for BC Children’s Hospital

The snowball fight was to raise funds for the annual Snowball Fight for Kids Campaign

‘Our culture is not a religion,’ Indigenous educator tells B.C. Supreme Court in case of smudging at school

Mother also gave evidence Tuesday in Nanaimo courtroom, case continues Wednesday

B.C. man who killed Belgian tourist near Boston Bar gets life in prison, no parole until 2042

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

Trudeau to take sober approach to unveiling new cabinet for minority mandate

Liberals survived a bruising campaign that diminished Trudeau’s stature as a champion of diversity

Lowe’s says it will close 34 ‘underperforming’ stores across six provinces

The stores include 26 Ronas, six Lowe’s and two Reno-Depots

Most Read