The Williams Lake Indian Band (WLIB) showed its appreciation for Cariboo Chilcotin educators this week during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A thank-you song was drummed by elders Virigina Gilbert and Linda Narcisse at Marie Sharpe Elementary early Wednesday afternoon where School District 27 administrative staff and educators and students from Marie Sharpe Elementary and Skyline Alternate gathered outside, physically distanced.
WLIB staff and one student from Little Chiefs Primary School also participitated.
The lead teacher of Little Chiefs Primary School, JoAnne Moiese, from WLIB contacted the district office Wednesday morning, May 13 and asked if she could attend the office to offer a thank-you drum song to staff for their work during the COVID-19 crisis.
Moiese, also an WLIB councillor, said it was about two weeks ago when staff from the WLIB school decorated their vehicles with signs of inspirational words and took part in a parade delivering lunch and individually boxed cupcakes to the students who live at Sugar Cane, 150 Mile House area, Deep Creek and Williams Lake.
“At that point it was almost five weeks that we hadn’t been able to see them in person because of COVID-19,” she said, adding many children who do not attend the school joined in the excitement by watching the parade with their families from the safety of their home.
“They just seemed so up lifted by what we were doing. So it started as thinking we wanted to do something to lift others and to also say thank you especially to our educators and to also ask for prayers for protection for them as they’ll be introducing more students back in to the schools.”
Moiese thanked SD 27 director of instruction, Jerome Beauchamp for helping make the appreciation event possible.
Beauchamp said it was awesome.
“It was very impromptu and within a few hours we pulled it together, so it was kind of neat to have that spontaneous event happen and people appreciating each other and working together. It was good.”
The hope is to have most students return to Little Chief Primary School by June 1.
Moiese said they have been teaching lessons via Zoom for up to six hours a day and that it has been challenging as some students do not have internet access or the connection is slow.
“Yesterday we had started going to the homes outside using social distancing and teaching.”
School District 27 is taking similar measures and is aiming to have students back in school soon, Beauchamp said.
“Now schools are making plans to start including more kids in their schools over the next few weeks,” he said, noting teachers are working hard to make online learning and lessons work well.
“I don’t think at this point we’re going to get back to all kids back in school in one moment but we’re certainly working towards up to 50 percent of our kids in buildings at any given moment.”
Another appreciation event will take place at Eagle’s Nest housing complex in Williams Lake on Wednesday, May 20 at 1 p.m. where elders have been self-isolating since mid-March, Moiese said.
“We wanted to just reach out to them and say we’re thinking of them and we miss them.”