By Laura Stovel
Children at Columbia Park Elementary School experienced the old-fashioned joys of exchanging hand-written letters with pen pals of their own age on Friday.
Students throughout the school have been learning about the Aboriginal culture and history, including the Aboriginal history of the Revelstoke area. Sinixt representatives from the Colville Reservation in Washington, whose ancestors lived along the Columbia River between Kettle Falls and the Big Bend north of Revelstoke, have visited the school several times in recent years.
In November, Arrow Lakes Facilitator for the Sinixt, Virgil Seymour, talked to students about the Sinixt history and language. This visit inspired the idea of a letter exchange between grades two and three students at Columbia Park and their counterparts at Inchelium Elementary School on the reservation.
On Friday, Seymour brought hand-written letters to Stephanie Noel’s grade two-three split class from students at Inchelium Elementary School, replying to a class letter the Columbia Park students had sent with him in November. The students were delighted and eagerly swapped letters with others at their tables so they could read them all.
Principal Ariel MacDowell observed the scene of eager readers with great satisfaction. “It makes what the students in this class are learning really real to them. They’ve been reading about lots of the subjects mentioned in the letters but it’s also new because the Revelstoke students haven’t experienced pow wows, fancy dancing and tepees.”