Field Trip Yields Deeper Understanding of First Nations

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On Wednesday, the Grade 6 Humanities classes all set off to the Royal BC Museum. For many of us, the museum wasn’t new. However, what we learned there was. The focus of the Grade 6 Humanities curriculum is culture, so it made sense that we spent the time in the First Peoples Exhibit on the third floor. All of the classes started in separate locations, exploring the culture of the people who lived right here, on Vancouver Island, for thousands of years.

My particular group started off by looking at the masks. There, the museum’s collection of masks was displayed, as well as recordings of the stories behind each one. Everyone was silent as First Nations elders told the myths, beliefs, and traditions embedded in the beautifully carved wood.

Second, we went to the longhouse. Everything was constructed entirely from red cedar planks: roof, walls, benches, totems, etc. Mr. Floyd, our group leader, informed us about everything that went on in the huge house. It makes sense that it would be huge, too: several extended families would share the space. The cedar planks were made without power saws, as were the intricately carved totem poles. Everything that our teachers had told us about environment impacting culture rang true at the exhibit.

This trip to the museum not only helped develop an understanding of culture, it also opened people’s eyes to the culture at home, as well as the history of BC. As I looked around before leaving the museum, I realized why we came here: the amount of culture, from where we live, is amazing.

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