Celebrating our namesake: Eugene Reimer Day at ERMS
“So long as they speak your name, you shall never die” – Dan Brown
This June, students at Eugene Reimer Middle participated in an Inquiry Project to learn about the life and legacy of our namesake, Eugene Reimer. Our school is now 20 years old, and we want to ensure that Eugene Reimer's life and legacy continue to live on through our students, staff, and the school. While many people living in Abbotsford are familiar with Eugene Reimer and his remarkable life, there are also people who do not yet know much about the man our school is named for.
On Eugene Reimer Day, community members who knew Eugene Reimer, including his son, Jim Reimer, and the mayor of Abbotsford, Ross Siemens, were invited to share their stories and memories about Eugene’s life. Jim MacDonald, the first principal of ERMS, reflected on the early years of the school and how involved Eugene was with the school. Also, Julie Funucchi, our Indigenous Support Worker and Persons with Disability Advocate shared her story of overcoming a physical disability. Former staff and students of ERMS, as well as current staff and families, also shared their experiences.
Students and community members engaged in an activity where together they reviewed articles about Eugene Reimer and reflected on the speeches. They then had the opportunity to discuss how learning about Eugene’s life inspires them, and how it influences their perception of disability and inclusivity. Participants were asked to consider what Eugene’s legacy is, and how it will continue to inspire future generations. Students drew connections between the life and legacy of Eugene Reimer and the values we embrace as a School of Character: Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Empathy, Courage, and Service.
As a part of our Middle School Operational Plan to increase the opportunities for students to share their voice in our middle schools as well as the Indigenization of the curriculum each student at Eugene Reimer experienced the Sto:lo Governance protocol: The Strength and Wisdom of Consensus from an Indigenous Worldview
This consensus protocol helped our staff select a “Siyam” or speaker/leader to represent each class at Eugene Reimer Day. Feedback from staff was that this was an amazing experience for themselves and their students. Students who would have not necessarily "won a vote" or been selected by their teachers emerged by using this protocol. The chosen students participated in Eugene Reimer Day and will take their learning back to share with their class. We are grateful to the District Indigenous Department for their guidance in learning about and implementing this protocol.
Lastly, Jim Reimer donated his father's racing wheelchair, the one Eugene Reimer used to win the Gold Medal in the Pentathlon at the 1972 Paralympic Games in Germany to be displayed at the school. We are grateful to everyone who helped make this day a reality, and we believe that the learning that happened on this day will help teach future Eugene Reimer Ravens and visitors to the school about the school's namesake: the man who Eugene was, and the legacy he built.
IAN LEVINGS, PRINCIPAL
Eugene Reimer Middle School