Although the official date for this year’s National Aboriginal Day event is scheduled for June 21, schools in Peace Wapiti Public School Division (PWSD) have opted to get a head start on the celebration.
“About five years ago, the First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) group, in consultation with the Division, decided to hold National Aboriginal Day celebrations earlier because the event typically falls in the middle of exam week for our schools,” says PWSD’s FNMI Coordinator, Darrell Willier.
Last month, Penson School in Grovedale hosted a celebration which included entertainment followed by a stew and bannock lunch at noon. Shirley Boomer, one of PWSD’s eight FNMI Liaison Workers, created shields with students at Spirit River Regional Academy and Harry Balfour School. Students decorated the shields with symbols representing important life events.
“First Nations people get their symbols through visions and exceptional events in their lives – events of powerful meaning,” says Ms. Boomer. “One student painted three daffodils on her shield to represent three relatives who have survived cancer. After the shield is made, the student can look at it and remember the feelings that came to them while they were painting it. As they age, the symbols may represent something else for them.”
Today, Thursday, June 4, the Blue Bird Dancers will perform for Grades 1 to 5 students at Harry Balfour School in Grande Prairie in the school’s small gym at noon. The event will wrap up at 1:30 p.m.
On June 13-14, Ridgevalley School’s Grade 7 students will attend the Peace River Pow Wow to participate in activities and speak with elders from the community. The class has been studying First Nations cultures, focusing on Cree culture and society.
Teepee Creek School will host a celebration beginning at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, June 17 at the Teepee Creek Hall. Students will make bannock and crafts, hear stories and play games which center on Aboriginal teachings.
This event has been cancelled. A school-wide celebration will be held at Hythe Regional School on Friday, June 19. The morning will include classroom visits by elders who will offer teachings of the medicine wheel, the drum and herbal medicine, followed by presentations by the Métis Local and Native Counseling Services of Alberta. Classes will also participate in storytelling and Native and Métis dancing. A lunch of stew and bannock on a stick – a school favourite – will be served. Following lunch, student dancers will perform in the gym at approximately 1:00 p.m., followed by a round dance for the school’s Kindergarten to Grade 9 students and staff to end the celebration.
To learn more about National Aboriginal Day, visit www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca.
Photos: A school-wide celebration of National Aboriginal Day will be held at Hythe Regional School. Plans for the day include Native teachings, student dancers, and presentations by the Métis Local and Native Counseling Services of Alberta. A lunch of stew and bannock on a stick will be served to Kindergarten to Grade 9 students and staff.