Ecole Providence Aboriginal Day, an opportunity to introduce all students to First Nations’ culture

Peyton Mitchell making bannock.

Tom Henihan
Express Staff

When celebrating National Aboriginal Day, June 21, Ecole Providence students divided into four groups: Wolves, Bears, Buffalo and Eagles.

Each group took turns participating in traditional First Nations’ activities such as drawing traditional native art, sketching and painting the Metis and Inuit flags and the Grade 5 and 6 students helped the younger kids make dream catchers.

At 11 am, all students took part in making bannock and around noon a traditional lunch was served of beef stew and bannock prepared the day before.

In the afternoon, the students participated in five kinds of traditional games: the running and screaming game, ring toss, beaver tail, the bone game and native hand games.

In the running and screaming game, the kids take a deep breath and run screaming until out of breath and can scream no more at which point they drop a stick to mark how far they could run.

The ring toss game involves a hide-covered hoop with the objective of placing the hoop over a pylon.

Beaver tail is a game with a pointed stick attached to a sinew and tide to the sinew are rings with a shape that resembles a beaver tail at the bottom. The object of the game is to flip the rings and hook as many rings and the beaver tail to the stick.

Bone pull, where traditionally a bone is used but on Aboriginal Day it was substituted with a popsicle stick, the challenge is to take the bone away from one’s opponent using only both index fingers together. It is actually a pretty tough game that the kids enjoyed.

The day’s activities ended with Native Hand Games. The hand games’ rules are complex but key components are teamwork, dexterity and strategy.

The communal character of the games and the spirit of friendly rivalry are also integral aspects of the games. On Providence Aboriginal Day, once again, the older students taught the younger kids the dynamics of the games.

Parents and members of the community also visited to enjoy the traditional lunch and seniors from Villa du Lac dropped by to watch the kids participate in the games.

Ecole Providence First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) coordinator, Sharlene Lambert, sees Aboriginal Day activities as a way of giving both the First Nations and non-aboriginal kids a basic knowledge of indigenous traditions and culture such as the games, the food, identifying the flags, cultural emblems and decorative motifs.

“Aboriginal Day used to be much bigger. We used to have our own powwow throughout the day and bring in keynote speakers,” says Lambert. “I am hoping for next year that it will be bigger and as the years go it will be bigger and better, that we can bring people in and make it more community friendly.

Students, parents and teachers enjoying a traditional bannock and beef stew lunch at Providence Aboriginal Day, June 21.

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