It’s a walk parents begin with their children and according to Seabird Island Band’s Chief Clem Seymour, our children are our greatest commodity, they are our future.
It’s a step that deserves celebration. That’s why, each year, the Seabird Island Pre-School hosts a graduation ceremony for students in its three’s and four’s programs.
“What we take care of today is very important. To walk with these young people and what we’re bringing back to them is a very cultural experience,” said Chief Seymour.
Chief Seymour attended both ceremonies, the morning for the four’s program and the afternoon for the three’s, to welcome the children and their families.
Both groups of children were drummed into the room while wearing shawls, blankets, or cedar and walked around the room in procession before being seated.
To cleanse their spirits for the work being done and to protect their future walks, each child was brushed with cedar.
“It’s about bringing back the teaching that they belong. To understand what culture is, to understand what it means when we’re bringing in the song is a teaching – an understanding. It’s our walk together that we have. How we look after one another, what it means to walk together, what it means to understand that they do belong.”
But the ceremony is about much more than just celebrating the children’s first steps in their journeys through school. It’s also about celebrating them as a family, as a community, and building our community’s future.
“We do it this way because we want to bring our people along. To say this is where we want to be in the sight of our future,” explains Chief Seymour.
“It’s an honour to be covered in cedar,” explains Youth / Cultural Worker Jonny Williams, “this morning the young ones had shawls and sashes on, these ones here [the three’s] have the honour of wearing the cedar. It’s covering their spirit. Even with how young they are, they will learn that meaning. And warm them up, and show them the love and respect that everyone has for them. Showing them respect for the journey they did this year.”
Seabird Island’s Pre-School offers two programs, one for three year olds and the other for four year olds.
Both programs are fully licensed. The Pre-school’s goals are: to support and encourage child development and school readiness skills and to provide opportunities for children to play while encouraging life-long learning.