A wooden flute, hand drum, hoops and a Metis jig were part of a special event at Georges P. Vanier in Donnelly on Nov. 16.
The school celebrated Metis Week that day, which was officially held in Alberta during Nov. 13-18. Dallas Arcand, of the Alexander First Nation near Edmonton; and Tracy Bone, of the Keeseekoowemin Ojibway First Nation near Brandon, Manitoba; were guests of the school and they performed songs and dances, and highlighted history and issues such as the residential school system to the students.
Judith Colter, the distancing learning facilitator, is pleased with what they provided to the students.
“Dallas Arcand was very authentic and engaging,” says Colter. “He hit a lot of the curriculum items. He was very authentic and engaging, I was very impressed with his performance.”
Colter was also pleased with the Bone’s song, ‘Women of Red’, about the residential school system and the hardships First Nations people suffered, but also about the ability to offer forgiveness.
Jessica Willier was the master of ceremony. Taylor Chalifoux and Hope Morris opened the event by offering a brief history of Louis Riel’s fight to defend the rights of Metis people. Gavin Anderson and Katelyn Lambert made a presentation about the Metis sash.
Dallas Arcand was next and he performed an honour song using a wooden flute, then Tracy Bone joined him to play ‘Women of Red’. Bone wrote the song as a tribute to her grandmothers, who went through the residential school system. The song reflects on the consequences of not being able to celebrate First Nations culture over the generations, as well as the ability to heal and take pride in their heritage.
Next, several students and teachers from the audience joined them on stage for the ‘Red River Jig’.
Following the dance, Arcand explained the significance of the hoop dance, including the fact the hoop was originally made from wood and it had a medicinal value, acetaminophen. Then he performed a dance with one hoop to a drum song.
Arcand also paid tribute to Seminole Indians of Florida by performing John Anderson’s song, ‘Seminole Wind’. Arcand offered a brief history of the fate of the Seminole Indians as part of the performance. Bone joined in with her guitar and Arcand alternated playing his flute and a hand drum while performing the song.
Later, Arcand offered some insights about his life and the path he chose. He encouraged the students to utilize their gifts and talents, and to follow their dreams. He also discussed a business he runs, selling bison jerky.
Then he performed a hoop dance using 13 hoops and, at the end, he discussed its significance and other spiritual matters.
Following the event, Arcand met with the school’s aboriginal club and he encouraged the students to take risks in life and to keep trying, even if they fail.
The club offered him Pemmican, consisting of dried beef jerky, dried cranberries and raisins. The club made the Pemmican the day before the event.