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Blog: Friday, November 22nd, 2019

Mouat’s Indigenous Success Centre gets a new space, new staff and a new name: Thrive

Thrive. We all want to do it. We want it for our school family, our students, our educators and ourselves. It encapsulates the meaning of a successful life. The definition of "Thrive" is to go well beyond 'just making it' or merely surviving. Instead, "thrive" means to grow vigorously in relationships, in knowledge and in spite of any opposing circumstance. 

The new team at Mouat has embraced the vision of seeing each Indigenous student empowered to do their best in all four quadrants of the medicine wheel and to thereby Thrive. The Physical, Emotional, Spiritual and Mental aspects of student life are all being considered in a holistic approach. We are working to create the conditions necessary for each of our Indigenous students to thrive in all areas: physical needs and emotional belonging, cultural experience and academic work.   

The new physical room occupied by Thrive is centrally located at the front of the school by the office. The result is that all students and visitors to Mouat see the high value placed on Indigenous education. This is indeed a reflection of the values present in the Abbotsford School District, staff at W.J. Mouat, as well as the Thrive family.

Thrive offers daily student drop-in times at breakfast, during flex block, at lunchtime and after school. Students are welcomed, served healthy snacks or lunch. The activity of eating together creates an opportunity for students to develop positive relationships with healthy adults. It also fosters a sense of community and belonging, providing emotional support. Students and educators use these times to ask questions about or promote district and school-wide events.

The Indigenous support worker, Tyrone Thomas, has infused Thrive with Cultural activities. Together, we have learned to weave, played Slahal, learned Halqemeylem words, participated in Sharing circles, watched Cultural videos and listened to Indigenous music. Tyrone has also worked with Mouat staff to Indigenize the classrooms and events at Mouat. He spoke to the Outdoor Education class regarding a fieldtrip on Sto:lo territory, taught about ancient fishing tools in First Nations Studies and discussed the importance of learning the Halqemeylem language to English students who were designing their own language App in Media Studies. Tyrone has performed in song with his drum before several events at school and is working with leadership students to implement a new way of acknowledging the territory.

Indigenizing classrooms is one way of helping our Indigenous students, but another is offering practical academic support to supplement their classwork in the Thrive rooms. When appropriate, students can ask their teacher's permission to "Go to Thrive". The double meaning is beautiful. We provide academic support, a quiet workspace or an alternate setting for quizzes or test writing in these cases. Some Indigenous students have found that regularly working in our space has helped them feel connected to their culture and motivates them to attend. Supervised study blocks are also being utilized.

It is our intention to support Indigenous students as they ... 

  • Gain knowledge & Understanding of Indigenous Culture through Participation 
  • Learn, Study and Work on their school-work assignments  
  • Develop & Move towards their Future Education or Career Goals 
  • Interact with the School & Community as an Indigenous person 

To ensure that we support them, we will … 

  • Arrange Culturally significant events and learning opportunities 
  • Provide academic support to students and supporting teachers as they embed Indigenous knowledge and ways of learning in their classrooms. 
  • Encourage and direct students to Scholarly & Career planning activities, including the special support from district personnel. 
  • Enable students to act as Indigenous Advocates within the school and beyond through Leadership, Acknowledgement of the land and Artistic presentations. 
     

JANELLE DICK

Indigenous Success Teacher, WJ Mouat Secondary