A bow and its arrows hold special spiritual significance to Jaime Sanchez-Valds.
In Chile, where he was born and grew up, Sanchez-Valds was taught to cherish tools that were for hunting and, most importantly, not for war.
“Hunting was sacred,” he said. “We have a lot of respect for nature and especially for the food that it provides us.”
Sanchez-Valds later immigrated to Canada and sent his three children to the Nelson Waldorf School. Ten-to-15 years ago, Sanchez-Valds suggested building an archery range at the school.
Archery, he thought, fit well within Waldorf’s outdoor activity philosophy and was something he could contribute to the community.
“This is knowledge that was given to me for free. My purpose as a member of traditional people is to give what you have learned for free too. It’s a way of life.”
Over a decade later, his idea has hit the target.
Grade 7 and 8 students at Waldorf showed off their new archery range on Oct. 23 during a small ceremony. Three years ago Sanchez-Valds began construction on his own of a small building where students shoot from, and the project was completed this year thanks to a $3,000 grant from Columbia Basin Trust.
Waldorf education director Phil Fertey said the new range adds a risk element to the school’s gym classes that requires discipline and, of course, safety protocols.
“When you can bring back that kind of activity, it’s something that adolescents rise up to because they are looking for healthy ways to take risks,” said Fertey. “Maybe not always healthy, but we guide them towards healthy ways to take risks and archery is one of those things that provides a different threshold of activity compared to playing basketball or volleyball or badminton or all the other things that we’re doing in PE classes.”
French and Movement Education teacher Vincent Deslauriers said his students helped clear the land, build targets and learned about construction from Sanchez-Valds. “They put in a lot of work, hands on, getting dirty,” said Deslauriers. “Sometimes they needed a little motivation, but they showed great leadership.”
What they’ll receive, he added, will be worth more than just target practice.
“Archery has something to do with personal development. It has something to do with your own personal growth by the way you stand, by the way you focus, by the way you breath while you shoot.”
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