Canadian "Legacy School"

posted Feb 19, 2019, 7:19 AM by Sarah Schildknecht
The Arkells came to visit our school at the instigation of Roy Ketcheson, who sent pictures of our students' work themed around residential schools and reconciliation to the Downie-Wenjack Fund (DWF). As a result, SFX received status as 1 of 400 Canadian "Legacy Schools" and was selected to receive the first Artist Ambassador Visit, which occurred on Friday last week (February 15), intended to recognize and celebrate the ongoing work of reconciliation with our indigenous students and community partners.

The Arkells and a team from the Downie-Wenjack Fund joined us for about 75 minutes and were guided through some art installations by several student-guides; they participated in a profound and authentic healing circle led by a Métis elder in our chapel with many of our indigenous students; they listened and gave props to our senior band whilst they rehearsed for their regional competition this week. 

The Arkells were visibly moved by the experience and expressed sincere admiration at the articulate, thoughtful expressions from our students and commented on the atmosphere of engagement and reflection we infuse in our school community. Audra, from the DWF, stayed long after the band had left to engage with student-participants and to share the vision of Gord Downie and Chenie Wenjack.

Our chaplain Tony Adams, was a key enabler in today's visit, prepping, arranging and supporting everybody with his quiet leadership. Roy Ketcheson did a splendid job preparing the artwork guides and ensuring that the visual space we occupy is always beautiful and challenging. John Yemensky and the band made us all proud. Thanks to Katie, Marina and Daphne, our indigenous support team at the board who joined us with Denise Andre and arranged for Monique Manatch, our Métis elder, to lead the circle. Principal Raso gave a warm, welcoming address, Robyn Gravel helped to host our guests, Corrine Gagnon assisted with photography and Brandy Kozowy provided awesome "green room" refreshments. 

If you didn't hear about this event till it was all over, that was by design. Although the trip had been a possibility for several weeks, it was never a sure thing given the time constraints on the band. Additionally, the whole event was kept very low-key in execution and under a strict veil of secrecy at the request of the band's management.

(Finley Mullally)