Using the cedar in class

Today I would like to share the use of cedar being used in our land-based class. Our students are working hard to bring back our old teaching of being respectful to our beautiful gifts from the land, such as cedar. I present this personal story to provide a glimpse of a Coast Salish perspective on a way of being with the resources of our territory.

ni’ tst ’ehwe’t tthu shni’s kws ta’tul’uta’ul’t ’u tthu xpey’ qwlhey’
Our school (Ladysmith Secondary School) received a beautiful gift — a red cedar log.

Figure 2 Donated cedar log

sutst ’uw’ xute’um ’u tthu ni’ xt’estum yaaysmutum ’u tthey’ xpey’
We did various projects working with cedar.
ni’ st’e kw’uw’ slelum’stun’ ’u tthey’ shni’s kwus statul’utum’s tthu stl’ul’iqulh
These items will be displayed in our school.

Figure 3 Cedar weaving loom

Cedar weaving

suw’ nilh tthu Qap’u’luq nilh ni’ ts’ets’uw’ut tthu ni’ xute’um’ ’u tthu slhun’um’.
With the help from John Marston we were able to weave the wall hanging for the entrance.
ni’ sq’emutth’tum ’utl’ Qap’u’luq tthu qwlhey’ sus ’uw’ hwu luplaash.
suw’ shiputum susuw’ hwu ts’umiil’.
John Marston split the log into lengths, planning it into thin boards.
kwus wulh hwu ts’umiil’ ni’ hwu saay’ kws hakwushewut yelhsus hwi’ qwsutum nemustum ’u kwthu xa’xtsa’, lhel’qstum’ ’u kwthu lhihw skweyul.
When the boards were ready as thin lengths, we soaked them in a pond — for three days they were soaked

Figure 4 A close look at cedar weaving

Figure 5 Cedar plank weaving

mukw’ tthu hiiyaay’us ’uw’ yu ts’its’uw’atul’ kws yu lhulhun’um’s
They all helped each other with the weaving.
susuw’ ’uy’ shqwaluwun tst kwus shuq tthu syaays suw’ ’amust tthu shn’i hw’iiw’tsustal’hw
We were happy to finish this work and give it to our school.
hay ’ul’ ’uy’ shqwaluwun tst kwus hay ’ul’ ’uy’ syaays tst.
We are very proud of our work.

When we are working with the cedar trees we want to use the whole tree. We were taught to use the whole tree and to not waste anything. We use the inner bark for weaving mats and hats. The image below provides an example.

Figure 6 Cedar weaving with inner bark

Both of these projects represent gifts from the cedar tree. By not wasting any of it we show respect to the tree.