Halloween in Canada is a very popular holiday marked by a great deal of expressive culture. Traditional Halloween activities include making of decorations for the home, such as Jack-o-lanterns, seasonal fruit and vegetable displays, harvest figures adorn porches and yards and of course the most prominent of all traditions is the making and wearing of costumes.
In history, this time of year was observed as a new beginning. A time when the fruits and vegetables of the summer were ripe and hence the end of pollination and reproduction. A time of year when trees shed their leaves, the harvest ends and many animals prepare for winter hibernation. A time when homemakers prepare for winter by gathering wood for the fireplaces and making pickles and preserves from the fruits and vegetables of the harvest.
In many religions, Halloween commemorates a time when those that have passed roam the earth and as tradition has it, people offer them treats because if they do not, then a trick or a prank will be played on them! One such creature is the Jack-o-lantern; tradition states that his name is Jack and he swallows coal so that his eyes, nose and mouth light up his path in the dark.
Such a large-scale contemporary event, rooted in tradition, does not go unnoticed at West Dalhousie School (WDS). Halloween is a big deal for us. Teachers and students dress in their favorite costumes and engage in many activities. These events allow each of us to express our individuality and interests but also teach us about the beauty that this time of year has to offer. Students study the changes to the weather and the changes in nature with many of them spending time in our outdoor classroom and amphitheatre.
This year our Parent council will be hosting a Halloween dance on October 27th and as a school we will celebrate Halloween on October 31st! I wonder what the teachers will wear on Halloween day!
As the fall approaches us, I wish you a season of regeneration and a time to prepare for the school year's goals on achievement and success. Delve into your community and join in on the WDS events and fundraisers! Here is a great book to listen to or read with your children.
All the best.
Landbased learning is about embracing the rhythms of the earth from an indigenous perspective. Creation stories exist in every society around the world. These stories connect the past to the present and future. The patterns in the stories suggest a strong link between humans, nature and the sacred energies. Stories contain key messages, instructions and ways of living in harmony with all things that grow from the ground, the animals, and with all humans that occupy this earth.
Land based learning reminds us of connectedness. At West Dalhousie School, we organize our curriculum around deep, significant questions that have confronted human beings for centuries. Our current question has evolved from those that went before and is the result of many hours of reflection and discussion by all members of our school community. "How Are We Connected?" We enable children to explore a topic in depth, to return to earlier topics, and to make connections in their learning in our classrooms and in their lives beyond our walls. We encourage our students to question their world. Remembering that as teachers and parents we offer models of adulthood to children, we show them that we too are lifelong learners who still have many questions to ask. We recognize and model the importance of wonder and imagination.
West Dalhousie School acknowledges and supports the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Calls to action and makes the following commitment to action for the 2022-2023 school year:
To increase our inclusion of intentional land based learning, weaving aspects into all subjects. As a community, we will deepen our connections through our continued focus on the 7 Sacred Teachings. Build Multi-Cultural empathy amongst our students and the school community. Increase our connection with Indigenous communities as a staff by seeking knowledge form an Elder. Connecting Indigenous ways of knowing students' learning and experiences in meaningful ways.
We will start our Welcome Back assembly with one of my favorite stories; 'This is A School' by: John Schu
Please remain connected with us and support our efforts by volunteering, joining school and parent council and joining our Special events and Celebrations. Volunteer and share a story wiht our students and teachers.
Whether we are welcoming your child/ren back or your child is just beginning with west Dalhousie School – we are excited to open our doors to you this September!
Last spring there was a renewed sense of hope as students began to experience many of the things they enjoy in a more typical school year. We begin 2022/23 with a sense of hope, optimism and excitement about the opportunities it will offer. We are focused on students connecting with their peers and teachers, engaging in diverse learning and experiencing successes throughout the year.
There is likely excitement in your homes as well – and maybe some other emotions too. I want to reassure you that CBE understands that while many things in schools have returned, some of our students will need some extra help. We have prioritized additional supports in the school and encourage you to reach out to your child's teacher with any concerns you may have.
Many parents ask how to help them prepare their children for the start of school. To help with the transition to the school, it is often worthwhile re-establishing bedtime and getting ready for school morning routines. If your child is experiencing anxiety about school, we encourage you to talk to them about it. You can also check in with the teacher and create a plan together. We will be hosting parent teacher conferences on September 22nd in the evening and September 23rd during the day where you can share your hopes and dreams about your child or any other information. We will do our very best to make your child feel comfortable and know that they belong. We look forward to seeing your child/ren and welcoming our families and staff back for a great year!
Maria Spagnolo and Divya Devender-Kraft
Principal and Assistant Principal
On June 24th we will gather to celebrate the 2021 -2022 school year and to recognize our grade six students as they move on from their elementary school years to junior high school. We are here to recognize all their achievements, citizenship, and academic excellence. It is an event that celebrates doing one's best and putting forth a champion effort, attitude and teamwork. It is an opportunity for parents, families and staff to share in the success of our students, our school and public education.
For the last number of years our grade 6s have shared classrooms, shared a school and shared an experience. Many of them started kindergarten together and have spent the last 7 years with each other. I have had the privilege of getting to know them, all these years and they are fine young ladies and gentlemen. They did a great job taking on the leadership role that we ask of the grade sixes. They took their leadership seriously and were positive role models for our younger students. They got along well and treated each other with dignity and respect.
Some of them may be heading off in different directions next September and I know they will face those challenges head on. My hope is that they will look back fondly on their years at West Dalhousie School and remember the special times. All of us at the school want them to do well, and because of that, I do want to take this opportunity to say a few words to them.
Grade sixes, keep in mind these few things as you head off to face your new challenges.
- Like the teachings of the Buffalo, remember to value the importance of Respect. The Buffalo provided Indigenous Peoples with everything they needed to survive; hides for warmth and shelter, meat for eating, muscle for sinew, and bones for tools. The buffalo reminds us to respect all living things, and in so doing we achieve a balance that keeps us alive. Like the Buffalo provide those around you with 'the hide for warmth and shelter'. Create safe, caring and connected relationships. Be selfless in your love and care for others. Remember, you are the sinew within your team and within your community. Like the Buffalo you have inherent strength in your resiliency and perseverance.
- Like the Turtle, remember to value the importance of Truth in your actions. Remain true to your beliefs and values. Like the Turtle you are adaptable to change and a catalyst for change, as you are creative and open minded. We love your critical thinking and solution based mindset. We admire your spirit of lifelong learning and so remain open to new learning while keeping your own truth sacred.
- Like the Bear be courageous and remain steadfast in your compassion and care for others. The bear spirit animal is a powerful force that lives within you; it represents the courage you have to evolve and the ability you have to be open-minded. Remember, like the bear, trust your instincts and be protective of your faith, your identity and your people.
- Like the teachings of the Wolf, value the importance of Humility. Wolves live for their pack and commit themselves to the betterment of the whole team. Like the wolf we admire your level of commitment to team work and each other. Live your life selflessly and make yourself available to support others. Remain loyal to your pack and take care of the underdog. Like the Wolf, form deep bonds with the other people in this life and create connections. The spirit of the wolf is a reminder to all of us that the greatest gifts in life are your relationships with those you love. Be the leader of the pack and be the difference you want to see in this world.
- Like the Eagle; love others unconditionally. It can't be denied that Love is a force that is undeniable to humans. It is a natural force of nature more powerful than anything else. It cannot be measured, yet it completely transforms you. At the end of the day every living thing wants to feel love. However as much as we want to love others remember to love yourself first. Be proud of who you are and focus on how you can become better. Don't be too hard on yourselves. Life is an open road to learning.
- Like Sabe or the Raven we have taught you to be Honest and to be yourself! You need to be truthful to who you are. You are reminded to walk tall, to have integrity and to not seek the power, speed or beauty of others. Model and teach others to be themselves; to be kind to themselves and to accept who they are. You are reminded to accept diversity and to see yourself within it as a unique contributing member. Let your journey be guided by truth and honesty.
- And lastly, be like the Beaver. The Beaver carries wisdom. Wisdom is not to be confused with knowledge. Wisdom is the gained experience and knowledge you have from your lived experience and your actions in life. The Beaver reminds us to take responsibility for our actions and to be accountable for what we do.
In closing, Be positive and productive decision makers; Be Polite Human Beings; Be Prepared for anything; Be persistent and Be Proud of who you are. Grade 6s, Keep in touch with us. I know that I always appreciate the visits from former students. Time goes by so fast; so slow down and enjoy the next few years of your lives, as they will go by so quickly. On behalf of the staff of West Dalhousie School, I wish you all the best for the future as you continue to shape who you are, who you want to become and how you will maintain a connected world!
In June, the sun travels the longest path through the sky, and that day therefore has the most daylight. According to the astronomical definition of the seasons, the summer solstice (June 21) marks the beginning of summer, which lasts until the autumnal equinox (September 22 or 23 in the Northern Hemisphere, or March 20 or 21 in the Southern Hemisphere). This date is also culturally and historically significant for many people in the world.
In many European nations like Scandinavia, the holiday of Midsummer’s Eve is observed on a weekend near the time of the solstice. People buy flowers and adorn their homes while others light bonfires and gather with family and friends to celebrate the gift of summer.
Summer Solstice also marks ‘Indigenous Peoples' Day (June 21st). This day honors the past, present, and futures of Native peoples throughout North America and marks the Summer Solstice. The holiday recognizes the legacy and impact of colonialism on Native communities, and it also celebrates the cultures, contributions, and resilience of contemporary Native peoples. Many Indigenous societies throughout history gathered on this date to conduct traditional rituals of prayer, thanksgiving, and celebration. Therefore, June 21 is the ideal day to “recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples.”
The declaration that June 21 of every year is National Indigenous Peoples’ Day was signed on June 13, 1996. The Indigenous Peoples are the first inhabitants of “Turtle Island,” or modern-day North America. As the original owners of the land, they deserve profound respect and recognition. So, on this day, we celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ achievements and recognize their significant contributions to Canadian society. The day was also instituted as a national holiday to showcase and celebrate the diversity of various Indigenous groups. Although they have many similarities, each group has its own distinct heritage, language, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs.
The day itself is usually celebrated with musical and dance performances, firework displays, free concerts and parades. I urge you to celebrate with our Indigenous brothers and sisters and learn more about the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Follow this link to see what is happening in Calgary https://www.aawc.ca/
We have had an amazing year of learning and achieving our School Development Plan Goal of feeling connected to others and building positive relationships. In learning of the Seven Sacred teachings, we have learned the importance of Respect, Courage, the use of our Wisdom; Love for ourselves and others; Truthfulness; Humility; Honesty and being truly ourselves! We are excited for the 2022-2023 school year! Wishing you a great summer of health and joy.
The teaching of honesty is given to us by Sabe or sometimes the raven. Sabe is believed to be closer to the spirit world than humans and reminds us, just as the raven does, that we must be truthful to who we are. The Ojibwa expression Kitchi-Sabe means to walk tall, or to have integrity.
The Sabe (Sasquatch) represents the teaching of honesty because he knows who he is in his life, and how to walk in a good way. An honest person is said to “walk tall like the Kitchi-Sabe"; he does not seek the power, speed or beauty of others.
At WDS we model and teach students to be themselves; to be kind to themselves and accept who they are. We teach student to accept diversity and to see themselves within it as unique contributing members. We challenge students to:
- Know themselves; their beliefs about who they are. This goes all the way back to the day they were born!
- Let go of negative self-talk and to talk positively about situations they are dealing with or challenges.
- Focus on their strengths and what make them unique.
- Stop living in the past and only look to the future with hopefulness.
- Stop caring about what others think.
- Be open to change and accept every challenge in life.
- Be vulnerable and take calculated risks so that they can grow and expand their horizons.
- Have a voice and express themselves in positive ways.
Wishing you a month of honesty and truthfulness to self. I challenge you to listen to what the elders say: 'Never try to be someone else; live true to your spirit; be honest to yourself and accept who you are just like the Creator made you.
Humility is represented by the wolf. For the wolf, life is lived for his pack and the ultimate shame is to be outcast. Humility is to know that you are a sacred part of creation, Live life selflessly and not selfishly. Wolves represent humility because they have a giving nature, and they live their lives for the success of their pack. The ultimate shame for a wolf is to be an outcast. Being like the wolf is knowing and accepting ourselves as a sacred part of Creation.
Humility is an important Teaching when faced with the reality of our actions and the impact humans have had on the land. Humility is practiced when we own up to our shortcomings and learn from our past mistakes. Humility often takes the form of a wolf. Wolves are social animals and generally live in packs of three to seven individuals. Two centuries ago, the wolf was the most widely distributed mammal, found over large areas of the northern hemisphere. Today, the wolf’s habitat has been reduced due to the loss of large wilderness areas.
At WDS we are working with our students to help them understand what the wolf teaches us and how to develop Humility in themselves. We ask students to:
- Spend time listening to others.
- Practice mindfulness and focus on the present.
- Be grateful for what they have.
- Ask for help when they need it.
- Seek feedback from others on a regular basis.
- Review their actions against the language of pride.
We believe that there are many benefits associated with practicing humility. Humility helps people build and maintain meaningful personal relationships with others and while so doing aids in developing healthy self-esteem and self-confidence. At WDS we are humble when we exhibit respectful behavior towards others. A humble person doesn't think they are superior to others and is devoid of arrogance and self-praise. We believe that we are all connected by helping others and showing compassion.
The thirteen original clan mothers teach us that we must weave the web of humanity by protecting others and never hurting anyone. Humanity grows strong when we see every other person as an equal part to a whole. There is not pecking order in the circle of humanity. Everyone is asked to do their part by developing their gifts, talents, and abilities. Everyone is acknowledged for the work they contribute to the whole.
This month I challenge you to take yourself out of the center of the equation and keep the spotlight on others. Quieten your ego so that you are open to learning from shared lived experiences. Dedicate yourself to continuous improvement and growth. Practice humility by honouring those around you.
A great picture book to share with your child might be ‘The Tower’ by Richard Evans
Truth is the compilation of all the Teachings we've been given; it is to know that we must be truthful with ourselves and with others, in order to maintain a reciprocal relationship with the land. In terms of conservation, we seek truth in terms of what we can see happening on the land and the species that live there.
The Turtle carries truth. Truth is symbolic of law and principle. Since the beginning of time the turtle has not changed. The turtle has been chosen to be the bearer of truth and the basic truth of the laws of nature have not changed. The turtle has been able to adapt to change without changing; thus he represents truth. He also represents time. His shell has thirteen big plates, symbolizing the thirteen moons in one year.
At WDs we continue to seek truth through our own identities and lived experiences. We share about our cultural upbringings and traditions so that we can make informed decisions about truth in the world and 'Our' truth as we have lived it. Students are encouraged to make the best decisions possible and to research and look at facts that may prove or disprove a truth. Critical thinking and solution based mindset is something that is encourage and fostered at WDS.
We share teachings though story Reading Alouds; Creative story telling; and guiding students to Resolve conflicts through the lens of the 'Three Pillars of Care.'
As educators we look at the perspective of one of our 13 Clan Mothers; 'Weighs the Truth'. This clan mother teaches divine law and states that we need to be fair judges of human rights; the keepers of equality and the guardians of justice. We are not to judge other people's actions by bestowing punishment but rather teach children the principles of divine law. The actions we take are based on our decisions. For example if we hurt someone intentionally, we have also made the unconscious decision to receive the lessons connected to harming others. Weigh the Truth teaches us that we are the ones that in finding and accepting the truth of our actions, we must decide what we will learn in order to make amends. As the keepers of Justice, we see all sides of every situation with clarity and full truths. Looking at all sides of a situation builds self determination and destroys deception. It allows us to see our truth and our talents and to believe in ourselves and not be swayed by other influences. If and when we do this, we are able to find true joy and well being. Justice and equality need to be applied to every life form by observing the obvious and being objective. She teaches us to erase self importance and to be humble in our interactions with others. Finally, she teaches us to focus on what is strong and right within ourselves and not to look at our shadows or our negative sides. She states that when we dig deep and focus on what is strong and right about ourselves, then we can truly develop our gifts and talents.
At WDS we believe that all students are capable of learning and achieving their gifts and talents. We see teaching as a human act rather than a technical one, and remember the importance of the relationships we nurture at West Dalhousie. Believing that children need to feel safe and cared for, we cultivate a sense of community. Believing that we often do our best learning when we have someone who will talk it over with us, we support dialogue in our classrooms and engage children in thoughtful conversation. We know that children also need to have voice in decisions about their learning and choice in how they will take it up. "How Are We Connected?" We enable children to explore a topic in depth, to return to earlier topics, and to make connections in their learning in our classrooms and in their lives beyond our walls. We encourage our students to critically question their world. Remembering that as teachers and parents we offer models of adulthood to children, we show them that we, too are lifelong learners who still have many questions to ask. We recognize and model the importance of wonder and imagination.
I challenge you this month to think of the teachings of the Turtle and to consider the words of Weighing the Truth clan mother and to look at your world objectively and to seek truth in it and in your actions. I challenge you to share your traditions and in so doing sharing your lived truth.
The month of February is celebrated as the month of love and care. We celebrate Valentine's Day as one of the major western traditions. At WDS we are continuing to explore the seven sacred teachings and the animals that gift us particular values to live by. Love is the Teaching we learn and use unconditionally. It is mutual and reciprocal, like the relationship we have with the land and all that she sustains. Love is often represented through the eagle.
The Eagle was chosen by the Great Spirit to represent this teaching, as the Eagle can reach the highest in the skies out of all the creatures and birds in the world. Only the eagle has the ability and strength to fly higher than any other animal, therefore placing it closer to the creator and the heavens than all others. Our true selves are made of Creator, therefore made of pure unconditional love. To know love is knowing how to love oneself wholly and fully in the eyes of Creator.
Love must be unconditional. To feel true love is to know and accept oneself and it is understood that if one cannot love oneself, it is impossible to love anyone else. February is a month of not only reconnecting with true self, but reminding us of the importance of unconditional love for others.
It can't be denied that Love is a force that is undeniable to humans. It is a natural force of nature more powerful than anything else. It can not be measured, yet it completely transforms you. At the end of the day every living thing wants to feel love. However as much as we want it, we can not demand it, command it or take it away. It is everyone's right to have and experience love without conditions.
The Eagle is also known to bring a pure vision to the seeker with its superior sight. In terms of the medicine wheel, love is the hub. The eagle is most often shown in the yellow section and represents the Eagle's vision, power and ability to see the bigger picture of the world rising above the material to see the spiritual. The graceful eagle also serves as a messenger for prayers and messages to and from the Creator as the Eagle can reach creator. The Eagle returns with gifts and visions.
In recognition of Valentine's Day and our the Sacred Teaching of love exemplified by the Eagle, students and staff have created a wall mural that depicts the gift of love and how we each feel connected to one another.
There is so much more that the Eagle teaches us. Perhaps you can connect with the Spirit of the Eagle and see what it has to teach you.
January marks a time for new beginnings; a time of year to set intentions for the year ahead. At WDS we are kicking off our year by focusing on the sacred teaching of Wisdom represented by the Beaver. This month we will inquire about how our healthy bodies impact our healthy brains. Teachers and students will engage in the social and emotional teaching and learning surrrounding brain health and skills and strategies focusing on self regulation and mental wellness. Staff will be involved in professional learning regarding this and will be creating learning activities including daily announcements and curricular activities that focus on brain health. We are setting our intentions around practicing positive mindfulness, self regulation and acceptance of others. We want to be wise and build upon our existing knowledge to develop more knowledge about the world around us. The Seven Sacred teachings guide us to be like the Beaver.
The teaching of Wisdom is the gift from the Beaver. The biggest difference between Wisdom and Knowledge is that Wisdom is gained through life experience whereas knowledge is to know the difference and accept responsibility and accountability. The Beaver reminds us to always use sound judgment and to recognize our differences and those of others in a kind and respectful way. The Beaver reminds us to continuously observe the life of all things around us and to listen with clarity and a sound mind and use our own inner wisdom to discern what may be true for us.
We must also remember to listen and use the wisdom that has been provided by our Elders and Spiritual leaders as this wisdom has been acquired over a long period of time and contains many life experiences. Wisdom comes in all shapes, sizes, forms, and ages, so we need to practice open mindfulness and consideration of others opinions.
The Beaver shows us to use our individual gifts that help contribute to the building of a community. The Beaver's example of using his sharp teeth for cutting trees and branches to build its dams and lodges expresses this teaching. If it did not use its teeth, the teeth would continue to grow until they became useless, ultimately making it impossible for the beaver to sustain itself. The same can be said for human beings. One's spirit and mind will grow weak if it is not fulfilling its use.
The beaver also uses its gifts to help alter its environment in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way for the benefit of its breed. The Beaver reminds us that when one pollutes the water, one breaks the law of nature which impacts humans negatively.
There is so much that the Beaver has to teach us. It is important to remember that each of our life's experiences has provided us with wisdom needed to get us where we are today. May the Beaver help remind you to stay connected to your own inner wisdom and to always remain open to gaining more knowledge. I challenge you this month to allow yourself to learn and live by your wisdom; keep a positive mind set; live by your experiences and acccept those around you.
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