To promote the education about Indigenous people and culture, Mitford School in Cochrane will host its sixth annual Indigenous People’s Day celebration June 14.
According to Grade 5 teacher Shawna Weaver, the school hosts the event in an effort to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) calls to action about education on Indigenous culture.
“Many of the calls to action include education as a key to reconciliation,” she said. “And in 2019, it's even more important for our non-Indigenous community members to gain the understanding and appreciation of our nation's history with Indigenous people.”
Activities will be taking place at the school throughout the day, with a focus on the education of different aspects of Indigenous ways of life. In the morning, Weaver said, students will participate in a number of sessions to guide them through a variety of Indigenous traditions.
“It's meant to be an opportunity for our students to learn about traditional dances and regalia, like traditional games, Indigenous languages, Métis culture, crafts and beading,” she said. “We're going to have food prepared by some community members and traditional storytelling.”
She added students also will have the chance to learn about Stoney-Nakoda storytelling from Anthony Bearspaw and sample moose stew and bannock, which will be provided by Karen and Janisha Wildman.
A Powwow is planned for 12:20 p.m., with an opening ceremony featuring Johnny Powderface and the Chiniki Lake Drum Group. The Cochrane Christian Academy, which shares a building with Mitford School, will also be participating in the afternoon celebration.
In addition to honouring Indigenous Peoples Day, Weaver said, the school also works hard to celebrate other initiatives like Treaty 7 Day and Orange Shirt Day, as well as teaching Indigenous culture and issues as part of the social-studies curriculum. Weaver said it’s important to include Indigenous people in the teaching process.
“[We] bring in and engage with Elders and other community members to help out through the social studies curriculum – telling [students] their perspective is the most important thing,” Weaver said. “It's bringing everybody together and the appreciation and understanding of our shared history.”
Several of the activities are scheduled to take place outside, Weaver added, but said there are plans to move the event inside if the weather is not co-operating.
The Powwow celebration in the afternoon is open to the public.