On Wednesday, April 11,2001. Sandra Northway and our gifted/enrichment class met with Lilian Sugars. Lilian shared many interesting facts about her time spent teaching at Malakwa School and writing three books. The first book, “The Serpent’s Tail” was written in 1958 (our gifted/enrichment group used this book as a source for much of historical data collection). Lilian published two more books since her retirement from teaching while living in Westbank.
Lilian shared that she had taken her teacher’s training at Normal School and attended summer school for three years to obtain her teaching certificate. She started teaching at Malakwa in 1953. She taught grades 1, 2, and 3, there were 16 students in the 1953/54 class, 3 girls and 13 boys!
Lilian taught all subjects: reading, writing, arithmetic, physical education and art. As there wasn’t a gymnasium, all games were held outdoors. Students enjoyed softball, and played on the slide, swing, and teeter totter. Lilian enjoyed teaching all subjects, and had great success with teaching reading, she enjoyed the small classes and the extra time she was able to spend with each student. The students asked Lilian if her children had attended Malakwa School and were curious if they called her Mrs. Sederberg or Mom. Lilian told the students she taught her daughter Anna and Anna called her Mrs. Sederberg at school.
Many changes took place while Lilian taught at Malakwa. The community’s population grew along with the school’s class sizes, the school building enlarged adding several classrooms, computers, and a gymnasium.
Christmas Concerts were the highlight of the school year. Students walked to the community hall to practice for the event. The community turned out in full force to see these productions and the evening ended with a visit from Santa.
The students asked Ms. Sugars if there was a gifted program when she taught at Malakwa.. Lilian said that although there wasn’t a formal gifted program some students received more challenging projects in the area of reading.
The students went on to ask about the books Lilian has published. Lilian shared that it only took one month to collect the information for “The Serpent’s Tail.” Much of the information in the book was provided by Helmar Erikson who interpreted his fathers, Erik Erikson’s, journals written in Swede, which documented much of the community’s history from the early years.
It took Lilian 5 years to write her second book “I Seen My Dooty and I done it good!” The book provides a humorous look at Lilian’s early teaching experiences.
Lilian has published a third book and is working on a forth, an adaptation of a native legend, “Raven’s Search for Sun.”
Lilian reported that her favourite activity to do outside of her work at the school was to go fishing. She noted that significant changes took place in the community while she was here and mentioned the growth of the community, the demolition of the old community hall, the building of the new community hall, the new church being built, and the many changing of hands of the local sawmill, which is the mainstay of the community’s work force.
Lilian retired from teaching in 1991. She said she missing teaching at times, but keeps very busy with her writing and the community organizations she is involved with.