Cross that Bridge for @SD61schools @NNaughton61 @RHRavens

Joel, Tracey and Josh Across from where Pandora St. meets Wharf St. on Victoria's Inner Harbour is a controversial blue bridge. This big blue Meccano-set-dinosaur is a drawbridge that connects downtown with West Victoria and the traditional territory of the Esquimalt First Nation including the famed Esquimalt Naval Base. It's controversial not only because some people hate it and some people love it but because the project to finally replace the crumbling was embroiled in international disputes, cost overruns and a long-delayed timetable for completion. Which means you can still cross it for the time being and I hadn't had occasion to yet on this trip. So I was glad for today's presentations at Shoreline Community Middle School and nearby Rockheights Middle School so I could have one last chance to use it before the sleek new bridge opens (with any luck) sometime later this year.

The Shoreline assembly proved to be yet another awesomely attentive group with performances on Voyageur by staff members Joel Smith (pictured, left), Tracey Nolan and Josh Gronotte. As I always note, all kinds of people have all kinds of connections to all kinds of pieces in the guitar, case and strap but the one story that consistently makes the biggest impact and draws people out to tell their connection to an extraordinary community and its extraordinary tree is the Golden Spruce. After we'd finished the presentation, Tracey came up to tell me one of the most deeply personal, deeply emotional stories anyone has ever told me in connection to the Golden Spruce. Of course, I won't share that here but I want to truly thank her for sharing her experience with me and adding to the depth of feeling the informs every single telling of my own connection to that tree and that community and for which I am forever grateful to the people of Haida Gwaii.

From there it was a short drive to Rockheights Middle School, where the student body was an amazing mix of First Nations kids, the kids of military personnel and many who were both. It was highly multicultural - made more so by a contingent of visiting students from Thailand. As someone who spent the better part of a year living in that beautiful country, it was great to put Voyageur in their hands and have a chance to say "Khop khun khap!".

Thanks to vice principal Michelle Troughton at Shoreline and principal Maryanne Trofimuk at Rockheights along with all the staff and students at both schools.

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