October 18, 2019 Message to Members

Haida Gwaii

Tuesday was an early start as I said ‘goodbye’ to Thanksgiving Monday, and made my way through Vancouver’s morning rush to the south terminal to board my flight to Haida Gwaii. I was a little nervous when, shortly after boarding, I received a text from Chapter President Verena Gibbs, “if you land, text me to let me know you’ve made it!” I had to wonder: if landing is ‘Plan A’, what’s Plan B?

I landed safe and sound, and everyone I met during my stay was shocked that I did: it turns out that they experienced a very powerful storm the night before.

Storm? What storm?

I made my way down the coast to GidGalang Kuuyas Naay Secondary School In Queen Charlotte City and met Principal Deavlan Bradley and Vice Principal Debi Laughlin. Deavlan was covering the music class as the teacher was unable to get back to the island after the long weekend: the recent stormy weather had kept the ferry from crossing the Hecate Strait. Due to a lack of TTOC availability, both Deavlan and Debi frequently cover classes. Debi was available to give me a great school tour, and I admired the many hallway portraits of scholarship recipients and students who have transitioned to post-secondary.

A storm had rolled in while I was chatting with Debi, so I turned on the windshield wipers and headed back up the highway to meet Principal Leighann Rodger at Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary in Skidegate. The architecture in Leighann’s school was striking, and while giving me a quick school tour she shared interesting stories that helped to provide context for many of the unique works of art throughout the school.

The final stop of the day was a dinner meeting with many of the Chapter members including Vice-Principal Sarah Finnie who hosted us at Port Clements Elementary, part of the Port Clements community center that houses the library and many other community services. It was a pleasure to meet Joanne Yovanovich, Principal Aboriginal Education and Vice-Principal Will Bedard of Agnes L. Mathers Elementary who traveled by ferry from Sandspit. I was glad to have the chance to chat with Vice-Principal Christine Cunningham who I first met at Short Course I this summer. Our dinner meeting offered great opportunities for conversation and questions. The group was interested in hearing about provincial perspectives, and looking at the growth plan module in BetterEducate.

On Wednesday morning, I was determined to join the BCPVPA Book Club that started at 7:30am. I had to travel a bit through that beautiful early morning to get a strong enough signal to join by Zoom, but was able to join a chat room and have an enjoyable conversation with colleagues about the themes that arise from Chapter 2 of Michael Fullan’s Nuance.

After a hearty breakfast, my final stop was at Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay Secondary School in Masset, where I met with Principal Ian Keir. Ian gave me a quick tour, and one highlight was an original mural by renowned Haida artist Robert Davidson [G̲uud San Glans], who painted the mural in the school’s original gym in 1964 before moving to Vancouver to enrol in high school (there was no high school on the island at that time). The mural had been painted over a number times and had to be professionally uncovered. The other highlight was seeing and smelling the work of the school’s Foods Program students. Each day the whole school sits down together to enjoy a hot lunch, and Ian refers to this as the heart of the school. Unfortunately, I had a flight to catch and could not join them.

I will cherish my time in Haida Gwaii. My sincere thanks to Principal Verena Gibbs for taking the time to coordinate an amazing visit to the school district and sharing wonderful stories from Haida Gwaii.

Take Care,