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Salmon Arm elementary school’s enduring illustrations given new home for all to enjoy

Story of artworks’ journey and connection to school shared in assembly at Salmon Arm West
A pair of Indigenous-styled salmon posters that were first displayed at Salmon Arm West Elementary School approximately 40 years ago by now retired teacher Linda McLeod are now framed and mounted on a wall in the school’s gym for all to see. (School District 83 photos)

The story of how a pair of salmon arrived at their current home in Salmon Arm West’s gym was part of a recent assembly celebrating a bit of the school’s history.

On Dec. 14, Salmon Arm West Elementary School students gathered in the school’s gym where two Indigenous-styled salmon illustrations, each comprised of several pieces, have been reassembled, framed and mounted on a wall. Though new to the gym, the artworks are not new to the school.

Teacher Jake Jakobsen explained the posters had belonged to now retired teacher Linda McLeod who, about 40 years ago, used the salmon in her unit on Indigenous studies. One of the posters, of a spawning salmon, was created in 1978 by Indigenous artist MIYANXA (Art Sterritt). The other poster is a copy of Haida Salmon, created by Haida artist Bill Reid.

McLeod moved to Bastion Elementary before retiring, after which she offered the posters and other resources to teacher Shannon Sharp.

Jakobsen told the students that one day Sharp received a phone call from friend and teacher at Salmon Arm West, Sharon Langlois, telling her there was a kindergarten teaching position at the school and she should come work with her. Sharp considered it and decided to move to Salmon Arm West.

“When she moved she rediscovered the salmon pictures so she put them together and put them up in her new classroom at Salmon Arm West,” reads a School District 83 media release about the assembly.

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At Sharp’s encouragement, Jakobsen applied and was hired for a teaching position at Salmon Arm West. He said he saw the salmon pictures in Sharp’s classroom and admired them. Sharp explained the pictures had travelled from Salmon Arm West to Bastion and were back home.

Jakobsen went on to explain something sad happened and, “Mrs. Sharp got sick and passed away. We all felt really heartsick because we missed her.”

New teacher Dianne Peebles thought the pictures, which had been in her classroom, held special meaning, and suggested they be put somewhere for all the students to enjoy.

“I immediately knew how important the story and artwork was to this community and it’s culture, and after many discussions with staff we decided to mount the paintings in our gym,” said Principal Laura Jègues.

Jakobsen said he couldn’t begin to describe how much joy and pride he has seeing the salmon posters now on the wall.

“They remind me of three things. The first thing is Mrs. Sharp. The second thing they always remind me of, is that we are so blessed to be in the Secwépemc territory,” said Jakobsen. “The last thing it will always remind me, is we are so lucky at Salmon Arm West to have this community of people – students, teachers, parents – that care for each other so much. For me that is home too.”
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About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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