Tsandlia Van Ry (foreground), along with (from right) Donna Arnold, Derek Epp and David Jimmie are some of the people who were part of the naming committee for the new K-8 school, called Stitó:s Lá:lém Totí:lt, being built by the Vedder River. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

VIDEO: Learning begins with new indigenous name for Chilliwack school

Stito:s La:lam Toti:lt will open in September 2022 for students from K-8

Anybody walking into Chilliwack’s future K-8 school for the first time will be stepping into an opportunity to learn.

That’s not just because of the resources and teachers at the ready, but because of its name and its location — and how the two relate to each other.

Stitó:s Lá:lém Totí:lt will open in September 2022, along the edges of the Vedder River at the end of Tyson Road. It runs the length of Petawawa Road, in a long thin strip of property that’s already under construction. It’s expected to be a jewel of a school, for its setting alone.

The site is shoehorned in the midst of UFV buildings, a popular trail system, parks and high-density housing. Indeed, the Chilliwack School District says they had to employ creativity to fit a school and its needs on the sliver of land.

And its name will be every bit as unique as its setting. A naming committee was created by the Board of Education, led by school trustee Willow Reichelt. Out of dozens of submissions came Stitó:s Lá:lém Totí:lt, from a committee of its own that includes Tsandlia Van Ry, a UFV bachelor of education teacher candidate; Donna Arnold, vice principal of Robertson elementary; Keith Carlson, UFV history professor; Tzeachten Chief Derek Epp, and Squiala Chief David Jimmie.

The five combined their years of knowledge and passion for local First Nations history and education.

They explained in their submission that historically, the area was used as a lookout for the community of Indigenous people who lived nearby, the Ts’elxwéyeqw (Chilliwack) people. Their submission broke down the meaning of the words, linguistically and culturally. Now, they hope by sharing this information with the community, and naming a school in this way, more of the city’s Indigenous history can be known and shared.

READ MORE: School district reveals ‘2020’ vision for new southside school

So what does it all mean?

Stitó:s translates to ‘place of crossing.’ It refers to a specific site near where the Chilliwack River breaks through between Promontory and Vedder Mountains to meets the Vedder River. It was at this site that the Ts’elxwéyeqw people constructed a tall tower to serve as a lookout for coastal raiders, according to the book Being Ts’elxwéyeqw. The lookout symbolizes the community responsibility to take care of, and protect one another.

But the tower was also where people looked out for friends and family visiting from other areas, giving a chance to prepare to greet them.

“In this way, the word Stitó:s represents not only a locally grounded placename that recalls an important aspect of Chilliwack history, but a symbolic commitment to both protecting children and providing them with opportunities to learn from those who carry knowledge,” the submission explained to the naming committee.

Lá:lém totí:lt directly translates to ‘house of learning.’

“Lá:lém totí:lt … is holistic, inclusive and representative of the traditional culture of how Stó:lō people learn as a community versus the traditional titles of elementary-middle school designations,” the submission continued.

The committee was surprised and pleased to learn their submission had been chosen by the Board of Education.

“We put our heart into something and didn’t actually expect something to pan out,” Van Ry says. “We knew there would be a lot of submissions and you never know where people are at and if they’re ready for something totally outside of what the district has had so far.”

She said acknowledgement should go to all of the educators in Chilliwack who have laid a “phenomenal foundation” in K-12 classrooms across Chilliwack.

And the power of language is so strong, she says, that when people walk into the school they will immediately be asking questions, like ‘what is the translation?’ and ‘where does that come from?’

“This is a learning opportunity for everyone,” she says.

READ MORE: Imagine High floated as name for new Chilliwack art and tech school


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Chilliwack School DistrictFirst Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Tsandlia Van Ry (foreground), along with (from right) Donna Arnold, Derek Epp and David Jimmie are some of the people who were part of the naming committee for the new K-8 school, called Stitó:s Lá:lém Totí:lt, being built by the Vedder River. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Just Posted

Iconic Chilliwack store passes clothing racks on to downtown neighbours

Chilliwack Mission Thriftstore given racks and fixtures as downtown store closes for good

Overnight closures for Vedder dike gates this summer rather than full closure

Working with anti-dumping and angling advocates, City of Chilliwack came up with compromise

Fiscal statement from the feds lacked clear plan for economic recovery: MP Strahl

While Conservatives backed emergency supports, it’s now time for ‘transparent plan to guide recovery’

Ride for cancer in Langley will take place Sunday, despite COVID-19

Annual fundraiser will be ‘really different,’ but classic cars are expected, organizer promises

Vancouver double homicide leads to arrest in Harrison Hot Springs Wednesday

VPD and RCMP tracked dumped vehicle connected to killings to Chilliwack

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Surrey officer-impersonation scam continues ‘almost daily’

Police reiterate warning that demands for Bitcoin in exchange for waived charges are fraudulent

Indigenous leader Ed John pleads not guilty to historical sex charges

Ed John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client

Woman who talked to unconscious husband for 30 years gets solace from B.C. study

Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987

Most Read