Aboriginal culture at Strathcona Elementary brings respect and healing for students and families.
All children living in poverty face significant obstacles. Aboriginal children face those obstacles and others – notably loss of their identity and culture, and lack of trust in institutions that have long ignored their history. Slowly and more recently, schools around BC have been making changes to help correct this for
students and their families.
One of these schools is Strathcona Elementary on Vancouver’s east side. With the help of CLICK funding, the school held a highly successful 4-day Aboriginal Open House in May 2015.
Strathcona has a significant Aboriginal student population – almost 20% of the total student body. Aboriginal students are particularly vulnerable, victimized by the enduring effects of the residential school system on their parents and grandparents. They are more likely to be in ministry care and are more likely to have attendance issues and drop out of school.
“We see the impact of residential schools on a daily basis in the cycles of abuse, addiction and poverty,” says Aboriginal teacher Michelle Martin.
For some years Strathcona has been working hard to integrate Aboriginal culture into its curriculum and
activities. Every Wednesday Aboriginal parents and elders lead a pow wow of drumming, singing and dancing. The school also has a First Nations Elder-in-Residence who works with children and their families.
“Our challenge is how to get these students and their families to connect with the school and feel safe, trusting and welcomed,” says teacher Reid Mcinnes.
The May Open House included an official opening by First Nations Elders, 30 different workshops, a feast including salmon and bannock for more than 500, all of it made possible by dedicated teachers and community volunteers.
Though issues like systemic poverty can still have devastating effects on Aboriginal students and their families, Strathcona staff know the deep value of bringing Aboriginal culture into their school to have all students learn about it and celebrate it.
“It’s about building community,” says Donna Lokhurst, the school’s Aboriginal Youth and Family Worker. “If families can feel safe and know that their kids are being taken care of it allows healing to take place.”
For 11 years, the CLICK team has raised funds for programs that meet a range of needs of Vancouver’s inner city kids. These include food programs, safe and enriching out-of-school care and access to skills and opportunities other kids take for granted.
While raising funds, we have never lost sight of one imperative: the need to respect the dignity of every child. This is particularly important because often one of the sad effects of poverty is that children start to lose self-esteem.
This loss of self-esteem takes on another dimension with First Nations children and youth, whose parents and ancestors faced the disrespect, abuse and racism that sadly continues to this day. Our front page story highlights one inner city school’s efforts to recognize and honour the culture of indigenous students and their families.
When children feel valued by loving parents, inspiring teachers and the caring mentors who work in CLICK-funded programs, they have a shot at a bright future – and every kid deserves that.
Thanks for caring,
Donor Profile: His art inspires Alvin Adkins to give back
“I’ve been so fortunate to have the ability to create. I take from my art – it
supports me – so I must give back,” he says.
For several years, the Haida artist has been donating his much sought-after silver jewellery pieces for the silent auction that is part of CLICK’s annual fundraising reception in May.
Alvin, who has been creating jewellery, carvings and prints for more than 30 years, is regularly approached by charities for donations of his work. But CLICK struck a special chord with him.
“Every kid has abilities, every kid has a gift. And it’s really touched my heart to hear the young people who grew up in tough circumstances talk about their progress at CLICK’s fundraisers,” he says.
Alvin also knows that his donations to CLICK go directly to programs that make a critical difference in the lives of children and youth living in poverty in Vancouver. “Sometimes you make a donation and you don’t really know where the money is going. But with CLICK you know it’s going to help kids in real need.”
For more information on Alvin and his work visit: alvinadkinshaidaartist.com
Fundraising dinner a smashing success!
On October 22 CLICK held its first-ever fundraising dinner with 60 guests in attendance. The dinner was the brainchild of CLICK Honorary Champion Fred Lee and was held at one of Vancouver’s hottest restaurants, Robbie Kane’s Café Medina. Guests enjoyed a delicious three-course meal and, through a live auction and donations, showed inspiring generosity. The evening raised $20,000 for CLICK – unprecedented in CLICK’s history for one event. Thanks to everyone who helped make this “Dinner to Make a Difference” a huge success from the CLICK team! Here are some images from the event.
Thanks to our sponsors and partners!
- Charles Chang
- Eli Gorn
- Sean Riley and The Glowbal Group of Restaurants
For a PDF version of the newsletter CLICK HERE