Warrior program teaches students skills and values – Comox Valley Record
Arden Elementary celebrated its “warriors” as part of National Indigenous Peoples Day.
The program has operated at the school for the past eight weeks, and the small group of participating students have had the chance to come together to sing and drum in front of their peers in a ceremony on the grounds of the school.
Daryle Mills, who oversees the school’s program, has run Warrior programs for decades and knows they are an integral part of children, especially those at risk.
“I’ve been doing it for about 30 years,” he said.
The participating children were: Jacob Rempel, Silis Audley, Caleb Maguire, Austin Ladouceur, Jayden Ewasiuk, Asher VanKerrebroeck, Tasia Hendrickson-Frank, Tyson Vickers, Kevin Stone, Dean VanKerrebroeck and Zack Romyn. The program was overseen by Aboriginal coordinators Sandi Phye, Gwen Monet and Lauren Simmons, as well as District Aboriginal Education Director Bruce Carlos, who sponsored the program.
Part of the goal is to teach them practical skills to help them stay safe outdoors. These include making shelter, learning how to start a fire without matches, being aware of food and plants in the surrounding environment, filtering water to make it safe to drink, and being aware of its environment.
“These are still old teachings,” he says. “It’s just our value system and our skill development.”
Another aspect of the program is the community part that comes from singing and drumming together. Too often people lose their feminine side and become combative and confrontational, but through music, Mills says, they need to put those differences aside and work together.
He and Tim Gagne, who both served as warrior leaders, presented gifts to the students before the event. They performed a smudge ceremony with the big drum before starting to sing and play, while Mills provided insight into the meaning of the songs.
“Now they can drum together on the big drum,” he told the other students who were there to watch. “We live for the person next to us. We don’t live for ourselves.
After the final clap of thunder, the students and their mentors exchanged handshakes.
Mills knows firsthand what happens when young people do not receive such counseling or lose touch with their culture, as his counseling work brings him into close contact with people dealing with the long-term effects of trauma and who can sink into a life that puts them in the correctional system. The program hopes to inculcate traditional values to give young people the foundation to choose the right path.
“That’s what we call our warriors – worthy young men,” Mills added.
Native School District 71