More than 200 students take part in powwow in Kejick Bay
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Approximately 300 Lac Seul First Nation students, community members, chief and council, and elders participated in a powwow at Waninitawingaang Memorial School in Kejick Bay on June 20.
The powwow welcomed over 200 elementary students from both Waninitawingaang Memorial School in Kejick Bay and Obishkokaang Elementary School in Frenchman’s Head.
“All of the students from Kejick Bay and Frenchman’s Head are participating in the powwow today… We’re thrilled about how many community members came out and that Chief and Council is so supportive of cultural programming. All the programs came together here today. We have prevention support, Choose Life, Lac Seul Police came out to support, and there’s members from Lac Seul Fire Department, so it’s a real community effort,” said Eric Bortlis, Lac Seul First Nation education director.
Students were dressed in full traditional regalia as they joined elder Rod Wesley Sr. in dancing during the powwow’s grand entry, as well as inter-tribal dances.
Through programming at the school, over 75 Obishkokaang Elementary School students were gifted with traditional regalia.
“In Frenchman’s Heads’ school they did this amazing regalia project. They went through all the traditional ways to make regalia, and then they brought all the beautiful regalia today. It was awesome. We’re going to work on doing that next year throughout the year, so hopefully all the kids will have regalia at some point,” said Alisha Dasti-Hill, Waninitawingaang Memorial School principal.
“We’re always trying to add to our cultural programming, so it’s great to have the regalia program. As the regalia was being made there were weekly teachings from knowledge keepers in the community, so the students were learning as their regalia was being made. Then they had that knowledge inside of them so they could receive that gift in a good way,” said Bortlis.
“Eighty-six students were gifted a regalia today, and we hope to get the rest of the students next year,” he added.
Students agreed that they enjoyed participating in the powwow.
“It’s been pretty good here. I enjoyed dancing with my jingle dress,” said Mackayla Winter-Ogemah, a grade three student at Obishkokaang Elementary School.
“It’s been fun. The food was really good,” said Jori Kejick, a grade five student at Obishkokaang Elementary School.
“I’ve been having fun, but I didn’t dance. I just watched it,” said August Littledeer, a grade three student at Obishkokaang Elementary School.
Staff members echoed the importance of students being exposed to, and learning, the culture at a young age.
“I think the important thing is bringing back the culture with the kids… We have powwows in Lac Seul and some of the kids go but, when it’s at a school, it just brings all the kids out and that means the world to us,” said Dasti-Hill.
“Our culture was taken away from us a long time ago and we’re just bringing it all back, so it’s really beautiful to see the children dancing now because we didn’t have a lot of that ten to twelve years ago,” said Antoinette Ningewance, administrative assistant at Waninitawingaang Memorial School principal and powwow organizer.
Dasti-Hill said Waninitawingaang Memorial School plans on hosting the powwow every two years.