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Schools Powwow shares culture with youth

By May 19, 2022No Comments
Lloydminster and area students take part in a circle dance last week at the first annual Heart of Treaty 6 Reconciliation Interschool Powwow. Taylor Weaver Meridian Source

 

The colours, smiles and sounds were shining a light on the path to reconciliation.

Last Thursday marked the first annual Heart of Treaty 6 Reconciliation Interschool Powwow, held at Lakeland College.

The powwow included Indigenous dancers from Lloydminster and the surrounding area, but it also included non-Indigenous students from the area, giving them the opportunity to learn about cultural practises they may be unaware of.

“Today is all about Indigenous youth showing off pride of culture and heritage, and us giving them the space to show everyone who they are,” said Rikki Ducharme, manager of Indigenous Student Support Services at Lakeland College and co-chair of the Heart of Treaty 6 Reconciliation Circle’s education circle.

“Inclusive is the word. We wanted Indigenous youth to feel included, we wanted them to feel like they matter, make sure their voices were heard, and make sure their culture and heritage was showcased.

“We wanted to also bring students from Lloydminster and area schools in because we wanted them to bring their students in to see who Indigenous students are and what they can do, and that’s what they did.”

Sam O’Reilly, a member of the Indigenous Student Council at Lakeland’s Vermilion campus, was over the moon with the cultural display she witnessed at the college and is excited about future powwows.

“It’s nice to see all the schools from around the area coming together and also having the college aspect in it,” she said. “As an Indigenous student from Lakeland, it warms my heart to see all of the other Indigenous students get together.

“Having the opportunity to have this on one of our campuses means a lot to me and it shows more steps are being taken towards reconciliation.”

Doug Abrosimoff, co-chair of the Reconciliation Circle, explained the powwow was a “Hot 6” initiative from the education component in our group.

“We wanted the MC to explain what was going on because sometimes we go to these things and visually, they’re quite stunning, but from our Western culture mind, we might not understand the symbolism. So he, with humour, was able to give us an idea of who the dancers are, what they represent,” said Abrosimoff.

“Through my role as co-chair, I’ve gotten to know many First Nations people now that I count as friends. That’s just a personal story, but I think that’s what we all look for in our lives, we look for some acknowledgment of the other and who we are.”

Abrosimoff explained the success of the powwow was beyond what he ever imagined and also noted how Lakeland College has been like an oasis for the local Indigenous community.

“The dancers are inviting the local school kids to join in the circle dance, that’s what these kids aren’t going to forget. Watching is one thing, but being in the group and dancing is a different story.”