IMG 1063 560From left, Student Council members Tegan Wesley, Lee Bouch and Sonny Pilon, along with G.C. Huston Public School Principal Dan Russell outside Council Chambers February 27.

Hub Staff

Principal Dan Russell and three members of the G.C. Huston Public School Student Council appeared before Saugeen Shores Council at the February 27 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Russell, along with Student Council members Sonny Pilon, Tegan Wesley and Lee Bouch were making an official request of support from Saugeen Shores Council for the naming of the bridge that links Saugeen First Nation to the town of Southampton the ‘Bimaadzwin Bridge’.

“During the month of April, G.C. will be formally requesting that the provincial government allow our community to name the bridge,” said Wesley. “We have the support of Chief and Council and the Bluewater Board of Education and we are requesting that Saugeen Shores Council support this project as well. Currently our students in Grades 5 to 8 are working on persuasive writing pieces that will support our application.”

For the 2016-2017 school year, G.C. Huston has been immersed in the Bimaadzwin Project. Pilon explained, “Bimaadzwin is an Ojibwe word that describes the right way to live your life. Translated into English it means ‘The Good Path’. Bimaadzwin has become the organizing theme for our entire year at G.C. Together, staff and students are learning why staying on the Good Path is so important,” he said.

Wesley continued. “First Nation tradition shows us that learning about and practicing the Grandfather Teachings keeps us on the Good Path. Consequently, we have made this the sole focus of our Character Education program,” she said.

Each month the school focusses on one of the seven Grandfather Teachings: Minaadendmowin - Respect; Aakdehewin - Bravery; Nbwaakaawin - Wisdom; Gwekwadizwin - Honesty; Zaagidwin - Love; Debwewin - Truth; Dbaadendizwin - Humility; and each month the school’s Bimaadzwin artists paint a homeroom door depicting the corresponding teaching.

See: G.C. Huston is on Bimaadzwin, the Good Path

See: G.C. Huston students continuing along the Good Path

“As the year progresses,” Pilon said, “students will have many opportunities to incorporate these teachings into the way they live their lives.”

Bouch added that in addition, “teachers are challenged to connect learning in all subject areas to that teaching.”

Principal Russell explained that the aim has been “to allow the culture and backgrounds of our students to become part of the fabric of our school” as well as “going deeper, making learning more relevant, allowing children to see themselves in their learning”. He said that as the project unfolded, a third goal emerged.

“It’s really neat when something like that happens, when you weren’t looking for something but it actually becomes the most important goal of all and that is the goal of unity - the coming together of two cultures as one family or one community - our Saugeen First Nation and Southampton and Saugeen Shores."

Bouch said that even though they come from different backgrounds, “every day we come together as a family of Huston Hawks. It is this message of unity that we want to share with our community.”

Pilon continued. “For years the Saugeen River has been seen as the line that divides Saugeen First Nation and the town of Southampton. It is the symbolic gap that separates the two communities. The bridge over the river connects the two communities and we see this as a symbol of unity - two communities being brought together as one,” said Pilon.

He continued. “We envision the name ‘Bimaadzwin’ on one side and ‘Good Path’ on the other. In the middle, on each light standard, we would like to see a representation of each Grandfather teaching. What better way to express unity than by connecting the communities with the Good Path.”

In closing, Russell stated that they were looking to make a formal application to the province around the beginning to middle of April. “We do have Bluewater support and Chief and Council from Saugeen First Nation and even a letter stating that you support this project would be great as we get the application together,” said Russell.

Councillor Cheryl Grace said that as a retired teacher she sees this project as a “stunningly excellent and inspiring interdisciplinary project” and a “wonderful achievement.”

Vice Deputy Mayor Diane Huber, a former Huston Hawk herself, called Mr. Russell “an incredible force”, saying, “Thank you for what you bring to Southampton and this whole community.”

Matheson, also a G.C. alumnus, congratulated Principal Russell and the members of student council for their accomplishments. “I look in awe at the work that you’re doing and wish you all the best on your project.”

Mayor Mike Smith promised to have a letter of support drafted from Saugeen Shores Council.

Bridge560The bridge that connects Saugeen First Nation with the town of Southampton.