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Esquimalt students painting fake fir tree mistaken for Green Party agents

Contrary to what one voter jokingly suggested outside Esquimalt High School on Tuesday afternoon, the Green Party of B.C. wasn’t breaking the rules by campaigning on election day.
John Harris.jpg
Aboriginal education assistant John Harris paints a prop tree for a First Nations theatre production at Esquimalt High School on voting day.

Contrary to what one voter jokingly suggested outside Esquimalt High School on Tuesday afternoon, the Green Party of B.C. wasn’t breaking the rules by campaigning on election day.

Her comments were prompted by the sight of John Harris, a School District 61 aboriginal educational assistant, and his crew putting the finishing touches on a fake fir tree being painted green for a First Nations theatre production at the school.

“We were just here working away and it’s voting day, so I assume she was making a joke,” said Harris, reacting to a voter’s assumption they were representing the Green Party.

Harris and two members of his crew — Jaron Mitchell, 17, and James Goldsmith, 18 — caught the attention of voters heading into the school’s gymnasium, doubling as a polling station.

Outside the theatre’s prop shop, they were painting scenery — first the tree, and soon a giant moon — for The Sacred Circle, a traditional First Nations show being presented there in June.

The collaborative venture showcasing traditional singing, drumming, dancing and language involves students from Esquimalt, Spectrum, Shoreline and Craigflower schools.

“Our class is a land-based learning program,” he said. The program includes science, technology, First Nations history, food and work experience components.

Participants in the production that features the art of Songhees Nation master carver Butch Dick include members of several nations, including the Lekwungen, Nuu-chah-nulth and Snuneymuxw, Harris said.

Voting activity was relatively quiet at Esquimalt High mid-afternoon but a volunteer said a dinner rush was anticipated.