Mine Centre School took a closer look at the traditions and life of Northwestern Ontario’s first peoples during its fifth-annual “Native Culture Day” last Friday.
Principal Brian Love said the entire community was invited to the event, which included workshops, a feast, and a traditional pow-wow.
“The focus is on traditional skills, dance, art [and] they learn survival skills," Love said. "This was our best one yet.”
Residents from Seine River and Nicickousemenecaning ran the workshops for the students.
“Some were grade specific and some had [grade] ones through eights working together," Love said. "I think that’s great, too—the older ones helping the younger ones.”
Considering about 90 percent of the school’s population is native, having Native Culture Day seems like a natural thing to do to teach the students more about their ancestry.
But the event is something all students look forward to, Love stressed, whether they’re native or not.
“It’s a real positive learning experience," he said. "I know my boys enjoyed it. They were talking about it at home.”
The biggest benefit from it all probably comes from the students’ interaction with community members, Love said.
“We had an elder come in from Seine River who talked about the need for learning and traditional learning," Love said. ”I think it’s an impact for the kids to see that—have people come in from the community.
“The whole community gets involved in our school," he stressed. "I think that’s really important.”
Up until now, Native Culture Day has been celebrated by Mine Centre School and the surrounding community alone. But Love said it might be time to bring in another school next year.
“Up to know, we’ve been building our own program," he noted. "We might be at that stage where we would invite someone else.”