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Editor’s Note: As many readers know, our campus is located on the unceded territory of the Sc’ianew First Nation. Recently, our Director of Learning Emily Coolidge shared a letter with the campus community on behalf of the Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group to further introduce and explain the new SENĆOŦEN names of our five student residence houses and provide a guide, plus links, to online SENĆOŦEN language resources. We wanted to share annotated and edited excerpts from this letter.

Dear Pearson Community,

I would like to introduce you to the spelling and pronunciation of our new house names, gifted to us from our Beecher Bay (Sc’ianew) First Nation neighbors. We live, learn, work and play on the unceded land of the Sc’ianew First Nation, and we are committed to building a relationship with our Indigenous neighbours. As part of our Reconciliation Action Plan, Pearson College UWC was gifted the names of the five species of salmon by Chief Russell Chipps of Sc’ianew (“the place of the big fish”), with the permission of Nation elders, to honour and rename our five student houses.

While we may not always get the pronunciation perfect, it is important that we are committed to learning the SENĆOŦEN language words for our houses. Below is a table showing the SENĆOŦEN house name, the phonetic pronunciation and the previous house name. The SENĆOŦEN language is always communicated in upper case letters, and the accents can be created using a SENĆOŦEN keyboard. (Two resources available to set up a keyboard, if you wish, are in links  here and here.)

SENĆOŦEN  Phonetic alphabet Previous house name
ŦEḴI¸ θə́qiʔ Japan House
ŦÁ¸WEN θéʔwən Calgary House
SȾOḰI¸ st̕ᶿáqʷiʔ Victoria House
QOL¸EW̱ k̕ʷál̕əxʷ East House
HENEN¸ hə́nən̕ McLaughlin House

Immediately below is a link that can assist you in learning the pronunciation and meaning of the names. On this link a SENĆOŦEN speaker says these and many other words and phrases in this language. (Please note that this link has all fish species, so you will need to locate the five species of salmon that correspond to our Pearson House names.)

I would also like to introduce you to the individual Salmon house designs that are products of a series of extensive discussions and creative workshops initiated by the campus Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group and informed by a collective process that honoured Sc’ianew Elders’ input and drew strength from the participation of Year 46 and 47 students, faculty and campus residents. (Please note these designs are intended to be introduced and honoured at an upcoming Pearson and Sc’ianew community celebration in the next month. We respectfully ask you not to use or share these in any way at this time. Thank you.)

Initial designs for these salmon were created and gifted to the campus by Chief Russell Chipps of the Sc’ianew (Beecher Bay) First Nation, who consented for his designs to be adapted and transformed via student input to create new visual identities for the residences which embodied both Sc’ianew and Pearson visual elements in harmony.

After these designs were gifted, the Reconciliation and Action Committee asked visual arts teacher and Housebuddy Lucas Olscamp and graphic designer and Houseparent Berenice Sanders as creative liaisons and mentors for student input and as supervisors of the digital adaptation of the collective input into new and fully formed house designs. Subsequently, the student input working group on design offered their insights in a series of in-person meetings, a random lottery draw was held in last spring’s final second year tone-setting meeting to fairly allocate a salmon name to each house with the final designs created by Berenice after that.

Each of the five new designs is based upon and thoroughly inspired by Chief Chipps’ original salmon artwork. Each unique design utilizes the overarching salmon theme with decorative house elements and colours unique to each. The distinctive designs represent an acknowledgement of the various environments and elements which we are grateful for on and around our campus and also of all the species and ecosystems who inhabit and/or are effected and benefited by them, including: the sea, the land, the sky, the sun, and the moon. An egg-sack in each salmon contains 40 eggs (the approximate number of students living in each house) and is cradled by two hands (symbolic of the Houseparents who hold and care for the students). The attached document includes more details on each house design, house element, and corresponding house colours.

Many thanks to the Sc’ianew community for this gift, and to all involved in launching this new initiative! Let’s work together to learn and honour our new house names and continue our journey on the path of reconciliation.

With gratitude,
Emily