The Delta School District is planting a cedar tree at every school and district site as a way to show appreciation and respect for local First Nation culture.
As part of the district’s Giving Tree Project, trees will be planted at all schools and district site by Earth Day (April 22), and students at each school will be taught how to make an offering to the tree as a welcome. This can come in the form of soil, bark mulch, water, or even good thoughts.
Students will be given the chance make their offerings during their school’s welcoming celebration, which will take place between Earth Day and Arbour Day (April 30). Educators will take this opportunity to explain the importance of the cedar tree to student, and the district’s Indigenous Education Department will host Zoom sessions and show videos to share additional information on the history of First Peoples’ stewardship of the earth.
“The role of education in building intercultural understanding, empathy and mutual respect is vital in advancing the journey of reconciliation,” school board chair Val Windsor said in a press release. “To understand the traditional territory we inhabit means to understand the culture of this region. Traditionally, cedar trees were in abundance here and have helped to ensure the survival of people for thousands of years.”
According to a district press release, the cedar is known as the “Tree of Life” or “Giving Tree” as it gives every part of itself to humans for survival: the roots, the bark and the boughs. Traditional uses of the cedar range from carving canoes, building the Long or Big House, making clothing, paddles, tools, and providing medicine.
The City of Delta has donated at least one eight- to 10-foot cedar tree per school and district site and will also provide the bark mulch, help to prepare the ground and plant the trees at each site. As well, city staff will leave students with detailed care instructions for looking after the trees.
“The cultural significance of the cedar tree to many First Nation people along coastal and central B.C. is profound and reaches back through time immemorial. We are pleased and honoured to be involved with the school district’s Giving Tree Project,” Mayor George Harvie said in a press release.