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West Sechelt Elementary Celebrates New Space


On Tuesday, September 21st, West Sechelt Elementary celebrated the completion of their school expansion project with a moving ceremony on the unceded and traditional shishalh territory, a ribbon cutting, and cupcakes for all! 

shishalh Nation members and the SD46 Indigenous Learning staff opened the event with a welcome song and a teachable moment as they honoured the Clayton family for their act of reconciliation in gifting back Indigenous cultural items to the Indigenous Learning team to be used in working with students in Indigenous Education. 

The ceremony continued with heartfelt speeches from the Board chair, superintendent, principal, PAC chair and student representatives. The construction team were present to be thanked for their incredible work and completing the project during the pandemic with world-wide material shortages. The $11.2-million project created space for an additional 145 students at West Sechelt Elementary.

Superintendent Kate Kerr spoke to the innovative and inclusive learning space, “I have had the pleasure of walking through the hallways. I have seen your signs that are in she shashishalhem, in English and in Braille, your gender-neutral washroom, your breakout learning spaces, which puts learning and connection at the centre of your days, and the lovely courtyard, and these are just a few of those decisions made through your work together as a learning community to make this build inclusive and welcoming.”

Ceremony presenters:

shishalh Nation members:

  • Andy Johnson (shishalh language teaching assistant and lead singer/drummer/cultural advisor)
  • Alfonso (Sito)Salinas (shishalh Nation Wellness
  • Raquel Joe (tem swiya Museum Curator)
  • Leah Julius (shishalh language teaching assistant and singer/cultural advisor)
  • Rita Poulsen (SD46/shishalh Nation shashishalhem Language Teacher)

School District 46 Indigenous Learning staff:

  • Tammy Saigeon, Indigenous Student Success Teacher
  • Matthew Friesen, Indigenous Education Support Teacher
  • Shannon McCartney, Indigenous Education Support Teacher
  • Mary-Jo Hunt, Indigenous Education Support Teacher
  • Desiree Harris, Indigenous Education Support Teacher
  • Kerry Mahlman, District Principal, Indigenous Learning


  • Amanda Amaral, Board Chair
  • Kate Kerr, Superintendent of Schools
  • Jeff Marshall, Principal
  • PAC Chair, Aspen Wing 
  • Student: Braelynn Costello (gr 6)
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