As a kick-off to its Culture Week events, Elijah Smith Elementary School hosted a ceremony to celebrate the new fire shelter at the site Monday.
The structure was built thanks in part to feedback from the Kwanlin Dün First Nation.
Elder councillor William Carlick opened the event with a prayer and brief remarks.
Speaking to several students outside around the fire pit, the ceremony saw Carlick walk members of the school body through the ceremony.
“All of those are sacred things that we need,” he explained of the elements as staff and students looked on.
“Always remember that those four sacred gifts can also take our lives,” he cautioned.
Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie Dendys was also on hand at the school.
“This fireplace is going to be a gathering place for you,” she said, looking into the crowd in front of and around her.
“This ceremony is going to help you.”
As students wearing their mitts and hats gathered around the minister, Dendys noted it was fitting to host the ceremony the same day that the school kicked off its Culture Week events.
“I know it’s cold and you want to put tobacco in the fire,” she smiled as students gathered around patiently waiting.
Dendys added it’s an important medicine of sorts that made up part of the ceremony.
“When I offer the offering to the sacred fire, we make a sacred connection. We ask the spirit world to come and bless us all – we ask that they will come,” Carlick explained.
That doesn’t mean though, Carlick added, the students would see the spirits.
“That’s not important – the important part is that we all accept that’s the way it is.”
He stressed the importance of acceptance and living in harmony with the elements.
“We know winter is going to be cold, we don’t have to believe that – we accept that. Same thing with all of those four things I shared with you.”
As students lined up to add tobacco into the fire, Carlick hoped they would carry on the ceremony.
“Whenever you need to honour your ancestors, you light a fire to make an offering – that’s how we communicate with the unseen.”