Earlier this afternoon, Harry Balfour School's Kindergarten to Grade 5 students were treated to an interactive performance by the Blue Bird Dance Troupe. The dance troupe, led by Omarla Cooke, opened the performance with a prayer which was signed by her son Kirk. "Each and every one of us has special gifts. That is why we dance," she told students as the group began to move to the pulsating beat of "One Tribe" by the Black Eyed Peas.
The Blue Bird Dance Troupe members are all family. Ms. Cooke introduced her mother, Loretta Parenteau-English, who sews the outfits worn by the group. Her brother Aaron English and wife Delanie Lambert-English are keeping the tradition alive by teaching their three children the traditional dance steps – son Isaiah and twin daughters Modeste and Brennan are the troupe's youngest members. Other youth in the group include Ms. Cooke's children MacKenzie, Kirk and Julius, and her niece Savanna Lambert. Ms. Cooke's sister, Shelly Logan, also a Blue Bird Dancer, is well-known at PWSD in her role as FNMI Liaison Worker at Clairmont Community School and Peace Wapiti Academy.
During the question and answer session with the students, Ms. Cooke noted that her regalia is known as a jingle dress. Jingles are typically made of recycled cans, are meant to represent 365 days of the year and make a loud noise to ward off negativity. While she says she cannot sew a straight line, she did note that she hand-turned each and every jingle on her dress.
At the end of the performance, students were invited to join in a dance by holding hands to form a continuous united circle. As the students exited the gym, Shirley Boomer, FNMI Liaison Worker at Harry Balfour School, asked a representative from each class to take a bag of bannock to share with their classmates. The bannock was prepared by Ms. Boomer and the FNMI students at Harry Balfour School.
For more photos from this event, visit PWSD's Facebook page.