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Students tap into teepee teachings

By October 20, 2022No Comments
Clint Chocan, FMNI consultant for LPSD, works with Isaac, a Grade 4 student at Jack Kemp Community School, to fasten canvass on a teepee. Students at six different elementary schools learned about teepee building last week. Geoff Lee Meridian Source


The first mobile homes in Canada were teepees used by nomadic tribes like the Cree.

Students at elementary schools in the Lloydminster Public School Division (LPSD) rolled up their sleeves to help build and learn about portable teepees under the instruction of Clint Chocan.

He’s the FMNI (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) consultant for LPSD who brought a teepee kit to Jack Kemp Community School last Thursday to impart teepee teachings to Grades 4-6 students studying the subject that week.

One of the main teachings is the different virtues like happiness, love and kinship that each of the teepee poles, and even some parts, represent.

“We have 13 poles in the inside and two poles on the outside holding the flaps. There are 15 poles and teachings,” explained Chocan.

He notes there are other teachings connected with the rope in terms of leadership and even teachings in the pins that connect the canvass.

The lessons sunk in after students helped to position the poles in place while Chocan spoke.

“They actually have a hands-on experience and when I was explaining the virtues connected to each pole, the students were actually following along and kept the order of each virtue,” said Chocan.

An Indigenous Grade 6 student named Tiara was thrilled to help put up a pole and have her classmates watch the process.

“People are connecting with the First Nations people. It’s fun to do and interesting to learn about,” she said. 

Emmy in Grade 6 also pitched in to help position a pole noting, “it was kind of heavy to move around because it was really big.”

Chocan says it’s a lot of fun for him and it physically helps him get in shape.

Stephanie Groat, the FNMI lead at Jack Kemp, was pleased to report Barr Colony School was raising a flag in addition to a teepee that week.

“We find value in having our Indigenous and non-indigenous students taking part in our Indigenous teachings and culture so they can all walk their own path of truth and reconciliation too,” she said.

Groat says there’s about 40-60 students at Jack Kemp who self-declared as Indigenous, explaining these kinds of teepee lessons help them to understand their culture too, if they’ve lost some knowledge of it.

Chocan adds there are some Indigenous students that have grown up in urban communities that have never had this experience before.

“There’s some reconnection and it provides them that cultural identity they were missing,” he added.