Quilchena Elementary: Intersections of identity, place and time

Arts Education, Language Arts, Social Studies

School: Quilchena Elementary, Richmond

Teacher: Kevin Vines, Brian Pantaleo, Una Simpson, Andrew Livingston

Artist Collaborators: Stephen Booth

Class: Grade 3/4, 4/5, 5/6 and 7



In 2016, Quilchena Elementary School in Richmond celebrates its 40th anniversary.  This special event provides motivation and opportunity to reflect on and investigate the human condition as experienced through time and place which represents an opportunity for the students to gain a greater understanding of their own personal identities, and their connectedness to the place in which they live and study. Through inquiry, students investigated their personal and family histories and discover the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.  They also investigated the history of the Quilchena community and reflect on how they are connected to those who have come before us and those who will follow us.


Connection to the Vancouver Biennale Exhibition

Human Structures Vancouver by Jonathan Borofsky demonstrates the interconnectedness of the figures.  In this piece, students saw a community coming together where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and gained inspiration as they envision what is possible when all build upon one another’s strengths.

Drawing inspiration from Human Structures Vancouver, students looked at the actions and lives of individuals often reflect global issues and processes and have the ability to effect change at both the community and international level.



We are all interconnected; connections are deeply impacted by time and place and are made relatable to all through Art and Story


BIG IDEA: Engaging in creative expression and experiences expands people’s sense of identity and belonging (Fine Arts Grades 5 and 6)

COMPETENCY: We are interconnected.  Who I am and who I will become are connect to: where I have lived, family history, family background and life experiences: (Positive personal and cultural competency – all grades)

CURRICULAR COMPETENCIES: Exploring text and story helps us understand ourselves and make connections to others and the world (Language Arts)

Explore connections to identity, place, culture and belonging through creative expression (Fine Arts – Grade 5)

FIRST NATIONS PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING:  Learning is embedded in memory, history and story


Guiding Questions

How am I connected to others of this time and in this place, and how am I connected to others who have lived in this place since time immemorial?

How can art and story reflect and celebrate humanity’s connections in place and time?


Learning Process/Inquiry challenges

Quilchena school was given its name by the Richmond School Board, in order to honour the First Nations People who lived there for generations.  Throughout this project, the students explored their school community’s connection to First Nations’ ancestors and to the land, while also learning about their own connection to place.  This sense of place includes the land on which Quilchena sits as well as any land that holds meaning for their families and their ancestors.

Through inquiry, students investigated personal identity, family history and their connection to the land.  They continues on to express their understandings through the vehicles of story-telling and visual arts, in the tradition of indigenous peoples.

For the culminating project, the students, with the help of BIG IDEAS artist, Stephen Booth created an ourdoor art project at the entrance into the school. In the year of our 40th anniversary, this installation left a legacy for the Quilchena community now and for the years to come.

•   Students researched the setting of Quilchena School, understanding that the land on which is lies is important to those of us who live and work here and was also important to generations of First Nations people who lived here many years before us.  They investigated what this area was like 40 years ago when Quilchena was a brand new school.

•  Students wrote about what is special about this place to them, and why this time in their lives is significant.

•  Students created personal histories; the content of these stories reflected student choice.  Some  chose to investigate their families’ immigrant experiences, interviewed a particular relative, wrote about their own experience of living in this neighbourhood, etc.

•   Students created personal histories and orally told their stories.  They created a symbol that represents something in their stories and drew, sculpted, built or created their symbols using technology

•   Students will devise a way to help them remember their stories so they can tell them orally.  This could be but is not limited to creating a storyboard, power point, list, photo slide show

•   Students incorporated their personal histories into individual visual art projects.  Students was guided through this process with the help of the BIG IDEAS artist, Stephen Booth.

•   Students, collectively and with the help of the artist, envisioned and created a final project situated in their community garden.

•   Students’ processes and artistic creations were shared at our 40th anniversary celebration


Cross-Curricular Access

BC Curricular connections as covered in the BIG IDEAS section.

  • Language Arts: writing, story telling
  • Social Studies: geography (sense of place), history
  • Arts Education: visual art projects
  • Social Responsibility; through family teams: cooperative activities and games that rely on interconnectedness and        interdependence.

Student Creation

Students wrote their own personal histories and stories, created the symbols to visually represent their community and incorporated the learning process into a visual art installation and sharing experience.