Check out the Awesome: Canyon Lister Elementary School

By Danica Weager, District Indigenization Coordinator

At Canyon Lister Elementary, the month of November is Metis Awareness month.  To start things off in a good way, each day begins with the morning announcements including greetings in English, French, Ktunaxa and Michif. 

Throughout November there will be information related to the Metis culture, history and traditions of the Metis Peoples taught within the classrooms.  

In our Kindergarten/1, Grade 1/2 and Grade 2/3 classes,  we've begun our variations of Metis Treasure booklets.  Together we learn about important 'symbols' of Metis culture including the Metis Jig and jig shoes, Metis Sash, the fiddle, moccasins, wooden spoons, etc..  We recently played a Metis bingo game having so much fun learning a few new words ( pemmican, birch bark canoe, capote ).  

Our 4/5 class has learned about the wampum belt and its origins - its ability to tell a story about its creator or even the promises it holds within the beads.  The children have been looming their own wampum belts and they are truly amazing!  I will be displaying them on the bulletin board outside the classroom for all to see and learn from. Last week students even joined a virtual jig workshop and filled the room with their own dancing and music.  It was fantastic to watch some pretty joyful learning going on! 

Grade 6/7's have been learning needle bead work and are in the process of making their very own poppy to wear on their lapels for years to come! The lessons include patience and perseverance, but they are doing it! The Metis were known for their beadwork and were often referred to as the Flower Beadwork People.  Our French Immersion class will soon join the bead workers learning how to bead using a loom, creating bead bracelets, headbands ....wherever their creativity may lead them. 

On November 8th was National Indigenous Veterans Day.  This was acknowledged during morning announcements sharing the story of Cree Code Talker, Charles Tompkins, a special mission's veteran during WWII.  Some classes then went on to continue the learning sharing the story of Tommy Prince, a Canadian Veteran receiving the Silver Star for his heroic efforts. Cards made by our own Be the Change students were distributed to local Veterans throughout the valley, thanking them for their service and ensuring them that they will be remembered. 

On November 9th, the Grade 6/7 and French Immersion classes participated in a Blanket Exercise. Lead by Danica Weager, District Indigenization Coordinator, students heard the 'story' of first Contact and the impact upon the peoples of Turtle Island. Blankets are placed upon the floor to represent North America (Turtle Island) and as the story continues from past to present, some blankets (land) are removed, people and communities separated from one another, blankets are set up outside of the circle to represent the removal of children to Residential School.  Children must stand upon the blankets, flow between them and sometimes, as land removal and sickness take over, some may eventually have to sit on the sidelines representing loss of family, culture and tradition. Towards the end of the skit, we begin to replace some blankets as efforts are made towards reconciliation.  A closing circle to discuss with students what they have learned and how they felt closes the afternoon.  It's an impactful learning experience. 

There are still a few weeks remaining in November... lots of learning ahead.  

Submitted by Laurel Ewashen, Aboriginal Education Family and Youth Worker at Canyon Lister Elementary School 

Danica Weager

By Danica Weager, District Indigenization Coordinator