The Richmond Board of Education was sworn into office Wednesday amid an Indigenous blessing and a promise from the newly chosen board chair to keep working toward truth and reconciliation.
Four out of five incumbent school trustees seeking re-election were chosen by voters to serve on the board of education in the Oct. 15 municipal election. They are joined by former trustees Alice Wong and Rod Belleza and first-time trustee David Yang.
Debbie Tablotney, who has served as a trustee for almost 20 years, was acclaimed as board chair and trustee Heather Larson was elected as vice-chair.
Musqueam elder Shane Point took part in the inaugural ceremony, both doing a chant at the beginning and blanketing the trustees after they were sworn in.
Point said, in his chant, he was asking the “infinite” to “lift up their hearts and their spirits, provide them with the strength that they need for the task ahead.”
“I’m also saying to the infinite please bless all the children that you’re going to look after in your terms as leaders,” Point added.
As part of the inaugural meeting, the RC Palmer Concert Choir performed "In Flanders Fields" in anticipation of Friday's Remembrance Day ceremony.
After the swearing-in and board position elections, Point placed blankets on the trustees, saying it’s a First Nations tradition for people entering leadership positions. The blankets were designed by Debra Sparrow and depict a wolf, which Point explained represents family.
As a thank-you gift, Tablotney gave Point a jar of blackberry preserves, which, she said, were made with local berries in an effort to “connect with the land and to share in our gratitude to the Musqueam nation for your friendship.”
“We hope to honour this connection as we all work towards learning truth and reconciliation on behalf of the generation today and those to come,” she added.