Tri-District Lahal Tournament Revives Ancient Indigenous Game

The article reports on the first-ever Tri-District Lahal Tournament, a cultural event where hundreds of students from 15 schools in the South Island gathered to play the ancient Indigenous game of Lahal, promoting cultural preservation and understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. The tournament, hosted by the Indigenous Education Department and Spectrum Community School, featured 26 teams, drummers, and singers, and was attended by Elders and community members, fostering a sense of respect, appreciation, and shared learning among participants. This description focuses on the primary topic of the Lahal Tournament, the main entities involved (students, schools, Indigenous Education Department, Spectrum Community School, Elders, and community members), the context of cultural preservation and understanding, and the significant actions and consequences of promoting respect and appreciation for Indigenous heritage. The description also provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as the number of teams, the presence of drummers and singers, and the attendance of Elders and community members.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Tri-District Lahal Tournament Revives Ancient Indigenous Game

Tri-District Lahal Tournament Revives Ancient Indigenous Game

On May 14, hundreds of students from across the South Island gathered at Spectrum Community School for the first-ever Tri-District Lahal Tournament. The event brought together 26 teams of eight students from the Greater Victoria, Sooke, and Saanich school districts, as well as the W̱SÁNEĆ School Board.

The tournament featured the ancient Indigenous game of Lahal, traditionally played with animal bones, but now played with wooden sticks. The game is played between two teams, with one team concealing sets of "bones" and the other team trying to guess their location to score points. Drummers and singers accompany the team with the bones, attempting to distract the opposing team.

Why this matters: The revival of ancient Indigenous games like Lahal promotes cultural preservation and understanding, helping to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. By engaging students in these traditional practices, the tournament fosters a sense of respect and appreciation for Indigenous heritage, contributing to a more inclusive and diverse society.

The Indigenous Education Department of the Greater Victoria School District, in collaboration with Spectrum Community School, hosted the event. It brought together over 280 students from 15 schools, forming 26 teams, and an additional 200 staff, students, and community members. Elders and connected community members were honored guests at the event.

The top four prizes were awarded to teams from Esquimalt, W̱SÁNEĆ, Spectrum, and Reynolds schools, respectively. Each winning team received a custom Lahal set crafted by Victoria High School student Chris August.

"I learned Lahal from Brother Rick who taught a group of us at an educational staff retreat in September," said Michelle Newman-Bennett, Counsellor and Cultural Support at Spectrum Community School. "I enjoyed the game so much that I taught other teachers and students, and it grew from there."

Cowichan Tribes Elder Raymond Jones Peter expressed his admiration for the students, saying, "The students and children in our community give me a lot of hope... They have such respect for each other and for Indigenous ways. They are eager to learn and to teach each other. Because that's how we all learn. All of us, no matter our age, are all learners."

Songhees Elder Frank George added, "I'm just glowing today. The Indigenous Education Department led by Dr. Shelly Niemi and the Indigenous Cultural Support team is helping keep our culture. They are focused on the teachings of our ancestors."

The event was a success, with plans already underway to make the Lahal Tournament even bigger next year, building on the energy and passion that the game has for bringing people together. The first-ever Tri-District Lahal Tournament not only revived an ancient Indigenous tradition but also fostered a sense of community, respect, and shared learning among the students and staff who participated.

Key Takeaways

  • First-ever Tri-District Lahal Tournament held at Spectrum Community School.
  • 26 teams from 15 schools participated, promoting cultural preservation and understanding.
  • Lahal game revives ancient Indigenous tradition, fostering respect and appreciation.
  • 280 students and 200 staff/community members attended, with Elders as honored guests.
  • Plans underway to make the tournament bigger next year, building on its success.