Skw’une-was Big House Program
Welcome back to Mr Fertey and our grade 4 class after two days away at the Skw’une-was Big House program in Squamish, BC.
This rich cultural program allowed our students, and their parent and teacher elders to live in a Coast Salish Big House, built and furnished as it would have been over 150 years ago. While learning about respect for all life, cooperation, and seasonal changes, the class participated in traditional activities, reflective of the daily lifestyle of the Coast Salish peoples of that time and learned how to use the culture’s artifacts.
Each year the VWS 4th graders participate in a cultural immersion program to learn about the traditional way of life and historical practices of the Coast Salish people of the Squamish Valley.
At Skw’une-was students, teachers, parent volunteers and Squamish cultural interpreters re-enact daily life in and around the Big House. Our students learned respect for all people, especially elders; sharing of work and resources; and living in harmony with nature and the seasons.
For this overnight experience, the students were divided into family groups: Cedar, Food Gathering, Weaving, Woodworking and Fishing & Hunting. Each family group worked with a Native elder and a trained parent volunteer to assist in their family tasks.
The traditional Coast Salish Big House is the focus of the North Vancouver Outdoor School’s environmental studies through cultural history. Since 1986 Skw’une-was has been teaching the historical practices of first nations people in a direct living experience.
Skw’une-was provides a contextual experience demonstrating the influence of human society on the natural balance throughout the seasons, over time, and across cultures.
Skw’une-was means partnership.