Van Bien shines in Power of Our Stories

Storytelling takes many forms. Students at Van Bien Elementary School showcased two different methods during a first-rate public presentation on Dec. 11.

At The Power of Our Stories, held in the Van Bien gymnasium, some students told their tales through Claymation videos. Others stood up in front of the audience and performed indigenous songs to the backbeat of their own drumming. Regional artist Candice George was the master of ceremonies for the event and, for nine weeks leading up to the show, lent her expertise to the students in both Claymation and indigenous music.

“I think they have taken a lot from this project and I was really happy to see them shine and work together,” said George, who makes her home in Fraser Lake but was in Prince George twice each week to work with the students.

Grade 5 students in Mrs. Wadson’s class and Grade 5-6s in Mr. Fedyck’s class did Claymation projects. Three of the videos – How the Fox Brought the Fire, The Blindman and the Loon and Mouse Mountain – were shown. Seven other videos were in the final stages of production. Doing Claymation takes a great deal of patience, which George saw as a valuable lesson for the students.

George, of Stellat'en and Wetsuwet'en ancestry, then led students ranging from Kindergarten to Grade 7 in indigenous singing and drumming. The first group performed Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes in the Dakelh Lheidli dialect.

“Each student in each class learned at least three or four songs,” George told the audience.

The Power of Our Stories was made possible by an ArtStarts grant which Van Bien received in September.

Vice principal TJ Grisedale said motivating factors behind the project were to strengthen the engagement of parents and students in the Van Bien community and to allow the students to shine through the creative process.

The same students will be back in front of an audience on Dec. 18 when Van Bien holds its Christmas concert.