Fall 2023 at Nala’atsi!
Nala’atsi has been a bustling place this fall! It’s a little chaotic at times, but it’s a beautiful chaos. We have been busy getting out onto the land, making bonfires, gathering in drum circles, connecting with culture, appreciating nature, and all kinds of other good stuff. Here are some photos from a few of our outings in September, October, and November. Gilakas’la to everyone who has helped make these outings so enjoyable and enriching!
Dec 4, 2023: Cedar Weaving with Avis
We are always super appreciative to spend time with and learn from N’alag̱a (Avis O’Brien). On December 4th, Avis led us through a lovely cedar weaving workshop where students made their own cedar bracelets. We are very fortunate to be able to work with cedar – truly good medicine!
May 2023 – Archery @ Courtenay Fish & Game; Canoeing @ Comox Lake; Middens & Local K’ómoks History
May has been an action-packed month so far and we’ve loved being out into the sun and on the land. A few highlights from the last few weeks include our annual trip to Courtenay Fish & Game where students learned the basics of archery before hunting a number of exotic foam animals (including a Spanish pig & legless Caribou!) We also enjoyed a fantastic afternoon of canoeing with Cumberland Lake Wilderness Society – nothing but sunshine and positive vibes! Finally, we joined local archaeologist Jesse Morin for a fascinating tour of Mack Laing park where we learned about historical K’ómoks village sites, middens, and life in pre-contact Comox Valley.
Nala’atsi Outings Early 2023
February – March 2023
The Nala’atsi crew has been busy over the last couple months, packing into the bus & heading out to various locations. In February we visited Cathedral Grove and learned about the old growth Cedar & Douglas Fir forests; in March we explored Goose Spit, played mini golf in Parksville, participated in a powerful Drum Blessing ceremony with Phil Mills, and headed up the mountain for a day of tubing at Mt Washington. Looking forward to what the spring will bring us!
Intro to Trades @ Sandwick Technical School
During the month of April the Nala’atsi crew headed over to Sandwick Technical School for a series of exciting hands-on workshops. We made cedar planter boxes, wired up lightbulbs, used wood burning pens & torches (yikes!), and made string-art picture frames. Students had a blast while staff had heart palpitations. Good times everyone!
Archery @ Courtenay Fish & Game
March & May 2022
It had been about two and a half years since we’d visited Courtenay Fish & Game, so students were very excited about an afternoon of archery. The volunteers at CF&G are knowledgeable and generally awesome. They led students through target practice and then a forest hunt where we encountered many exotic beasts including a wild boar, a headless turkey, and even a Stegosaurus. Thank you to the fantastic volunteers at Courtenay Fish & Game for hosting us!
Tubing at Mt Washington
February 7, 2022
The Nala’atsi crew headed up to Mt Washington on a spectacularly sunny day for our annual tubing adventure. Lots of smiles and laughter, and we left the mountain feeling energized and a little lighter than before. Good times everyone!
Mystery Beach Drum Circle & Teachings with Trish McPhail
Sept 27, 2021
On a blustery Monday afternoon the Nala’atsi crew headed out to Mystery Beach for our annual drum circle & bonfire. This was our first outing of the year and we were happy to welcome several new students into the Nala’atsi circle. David led us through a number of songs (with support from Nicolas) and then the lovely Trish McPhail joined us and shared some beautiful and inspiring words for our students. What a great start to the year!
April-May 2021: Outdoor Adventures
So many adventures at Nala’atsi this spring! April & May saw us alongside the beautiful Puntledge River exploring the trails at Bevan Townsite. A couple weeks later we ventured up the trails behind Cumberland to the China Bowls, where Perseverance Creek has carved intricate patterns into the riverbed. Finally, in late May we hiked out to Coal Beach where we marveled at Comox Lake and skipped rocks on the water. Students & staff felt re-energized and picked up some great ideas for summer adventures, too!
April 15, 2021 – Outdoor Lahal
Sun’s out guns out, as they say. We’re loving the sunshine and the positive energy it brings. After some obligatory smack talk the stage was set for outdoor Lahal this Thursday. Honourary Nala’atsi members Lelaina Jules & Jeannie Walker joined us for an enjoyable, (mostly) sportsmanlike afternoon of Lahal. Lots of smiles, laughter, and good times – and definitely no bruised egos or calls for an immediate rematch… Stay tuned!
March 2021 – Seal Bay, Tubing at Mt Washington
The Nala’atsi crew kept busy throughout March! Bannock making, ice skating, tubing, Medicine Wheel teachings, a letter burning ceremony with David – these were just a few of the things we did over the last 3 weeks. Below are some photos from an awesome afternoon on the beach at Seal Bay, where David led us through a number of songs and students explored the shoreline for treasures. Also included are photos from our tubing adventure at Mt Washington where students & staff had too much fun whizzing down (and in some cases twirling down) the slopes on a pristine blue-skied afternoon.
Snowshoeing @ Mount Washington – January 18, 2021
It was a typically overcast morning in Courtenay when we left for the mountain, but about half-way up Strathcona Parkway the skies opened up, the sun came out, and then it was blue skies for as far as you could see. The Nala’atsi crew had a fantastic time playing in the snow on our first snowshoe outing of the year. We made it twice as far as we did last year, reaching a vantage point where we were treated to stunning views of coastal mountains and beyond. We’ll definitely be heading out on the trails again soon.
Photo Safari @ Elk Falls Suspension Bridge – January 11, 2021
On a misty Monday afternoon the Nala’atsi crew headed out to Elk Falls Suspension Bridge for the latest instalment in our photo safari series. After a lovely walk through the forest we arrived at the suspension bridge. For several students, this was their first visit. Reactions ranged from excited to terrified, with some students crossing the bridge and others enjoying the views from a distance. In any case, everyone enjoyed the stunning views and the quality time spent outdoors.
November 16, 2020 – Drum Making with Daryle Mills & Gail Martindale
It had been three years since Nala’atsi students & staff last made drums, so this year we decided to make it a priority. On Monday we gathered at Wachiay for a full day of teachings and drum making. It was awesome to witness all the positive energy and love going into those drums. A big thank you to Tim, Daryle, and Gail, who helped students & staff over the course of the day (everyone finished making their own drum!) Also, a big thank you to Phil Mills for supplying us with the hides and other materials.
October 2020 – Outdoor Laser Tag; Indigenized Zombie Apocalypse Survival Training; Nala’atsi Adventure Club Hike, Nile Creek
In light of the realities of the Covid era the Nala’atsi crew is spending more time exploring and appreciating this beautiful land that we call home. All of our outings this fall have been outdoors – and what’s more – no one is complaining! Outdoor Laser Tag is an annual event that students anticipate and staff dread, and this year was no exception. Students had a fantastic time, taking particular delight in encircling and then thoroughly destroying Rory. Before we’d returned to the school there were requests for another round of laser tag this school year. Highly unlikely. Later in October we participated in an Indigenized Zombie Apocalypse Survival training workshop with Daryle Mills at Comox Lake. Students learned survival essentials, including how to start a fire without a lighter. It took some time, but within the hour we had a couple fires going.
Thank you Daryle for being such an entertaining and knowledgeable guide, as always! Finally, the Nala’atsi Adventure Club completed its inaugural mission this week – the Nile Creek hike. Students demonstrated their new survival skills on the hike, fully prepared to camp out overnight as they anticipated their guide getting them lost (such little faith). But against all odds we made it back to the school safe and sound – a little muddy, a little sore, but with an extra glow and a sense of accomplishment too.
October 5th, 2020 – Photo Safari at Englishman River Falls
For our second outing of the year we headed to Englishman River Falls, where students & staff hiked the upper & lower falls loop while taking in the stunning scenery. Students also photographed the waterfalls and old-growth forest during the hike – see below for some of the results!
September 28th, 2020 – Drum Circle & Teachings at Mystery Beach
For our first outing of the new school year the Nala’atsi crew headed out for our annual Mystery Beach drum & sharing circle. All week we’d been having conversations about Orange Shirt Day and the history & legacy of the residential school system. These are heavy & difficult topics, but it is inspiring to see our students take part in these discussions, learn the history, and start to understand their power in ensuring that history never repeats itself. It’s also inspiring to see our students embrace culture as a means to strengthen identity, purpose, and pride. Here are some photos from our drum & sharing circle at Mystery Beach – what a beautiful day!
Congratulations to the 2020 Nala’atsi Graduates!
Congratulations to our 2020 Nala’atsi graduates! We are so proud of you and all your accomplishments, and we wish you the very best in your future endeavours. A message from David: “Madison (Adi) Watson, Kaleb Andrew, & Daedra O’Malley!! A huge congratulations to these beautiful young warriors. Our Nala’atsi Graduates of 2020. I must say, my eyes teared up watching their graduation video. I love and cherish all the moments we got to share together this past year.
I know I am exactly where I am meant to be on my path. They have put a sparkle in my eye. For that I am grateful. ‘The bad news is, there is no key to the universe. The good news is, it was never locked.’ Give yourself everything you deserve in life. You are worth it. You are strong. You are resilient. You are beautiful in your own way. We will always be family!!!! Love always, Gamutalagalis”
March 9, 2020 – Cedar Weaving Workshop w/ Avis O’Brien & Elders
This week Nala’atsi students & staff participated in a really enjoyable day of cedar weaving, feasting, and cultural teachings with Avis O’Brien and a number of our favourite elders. It was a really powerful day of learning and sharing with a group spanning several generations. We’d like to thank Avis, the elders who joined us for the day, and First Nations Health Authority for their generous support in making this happen!
Hands-on Learning: November/December 2019
We’ve been keeping busy at Nala’atsi, with lots of hands-on learning over the last two weeks! In late November several Nala’atsi students participated in a lovely cedar weaving workshop with Avis O’Brien in Campbell River. (Thank you Avis!) In early December students learned fish preparation with Nala’atsi favourite, Lelaina Jules, and later helped smoke the fish. Delicious. On top of that, students have been participating in a variety of arts & crafts activities with Heather and the rest of the Nala’atsi staff. Sounds like some good gifts might come out of this, probably a good idea to be nice to us