It is with disbelief that I read about Siyamtelot’s (Shirley Leon) and the Coqualeetza Elders Group. (Sto;lo elders’ group being dissolved, Progress, Feb. 19.)
My name is Djoke Byleveld and I was the supervisor at the Chilliwack Landing Preschool and Kindergarten (operated by the Skwah First Nation) from 1981 until my retirement in 2011.
During my time at our school we had strong ties with the Coqualeetza Cultural Education Centre and through the centre with the Coqualeetza Elders Group. Our relationship was based on “what is good for the children.”
As school staff we learned from the knowledge and wisdom of the elders and this in turn enriched our school.
The guidance of the elders to the staff and students was invaluable.
Our students’ visits with the elders on may occasions were an intrinsic part of the school’s programming. The joy on the faces of the elders and the students when they met was visible and tangible.
It is my hope and wish that this will not be lost.