Dormick Park Elementary School unveiled a new bench – designed with input from all 240 students – in an Aboriginal ceremony Tuesday afternoon.
The bench was carved by First Nations artist Don Froese – whose traditional name is Peq’ Yexwela – who used input from the students of the elementary school to create the design for the bench.
At the unveiling ceremony, he spoke to students, thanking them for their help.
“It’s been a humbling experience to listen to your ideas.”
Perry Smith, district principal of Aboriginal programs, led students in the ceremony. He said the bench will be placed in a spot of honour within the school.
Smith explained the various components of the design, saying the face represents the students, the salmon represents the Sto:lo territory, the spirit bear represents the mother figure, and the design on the bottom represents the life cycle of the frog.
Froese said hands were incorporated into the design to represent the children’s innocence.
“As adults we have to respect your ideas and thoughts. We have to listen to you.”
Dormick Park principal, Kim Kass, said the project has been in the works since early last year when she met Froese. Froese began receiving ideas from the students in September – such as what animals they wanted to represent their school – before beginning to carve in January.
Students were given shavings from the yellow cedar bench to commemorate their contribution to the project.
The bench was unveiled in front of students, honoured elders and dignitaries.
Kass told students that the bench should serve as a reminder of the importance of friendship and their new friendship with Froese.
“When you see the bench… think about friendship and being a good friend,” she said.
Froese said unfortunately Chief Dalton Silver of the Sumas First Nation could not attend the event, but gave his blessing to the ceremony.