Red Deer Public students to be immersed in Indigenous culture
More than 300 students from Grades 3-7 and staff from Red Deer Public Schools will take part in an Indigenous-culture rich day later this week.
The Waskasoo Seepee Powwow Youth Day will take place June 23 at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
“We are excited to welcome our students and staff to this great event, where they will have an opportunity to learn about and be immersed in Indigenous culture,” said Hayley Christen, First Nations, Metis and Inuit Coordinator with Learning Services.
Events throughout the day will include a grand entry, Elder prayer, Powwow demonstration by the Red Deer Indigenous Dance Troupe, and eight breakout sessions that students can choose from including a drumming circle, Indigenous games, a medicine walk, beading and bannock, Metis finger weaving, and more. The day will conclude with two performances including a round dance and a performance by hoop dancer, Sandra Lamouche.
“The youth day is an excellent opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students to learn about many aspects of Indigenous culture, and to celebrate the vibrancy and resiliency of Indigenous people,” said Della Ruston, Associate Superintendent of Learning Services. “June is National Indigenous History Month. We spend a lot of time in schools teaching about Indian residential schools and its negative impact. It is equally as important to teach students about the strength, beauty, and living culture of Indigenous peoples.”
During the evening of June 23, the first Indigenous Grade 12 celebration will take place. Red Deer Public has 27 Indigenous students who will take part.
“The students have achieved so much to be where they are today. Many students have overcome adversity and challenges that many people will not experience in their lifetime,” said Hayley. “Yet, these young people have strived, worked hard, and accomplished their goals to be where they are today. We want to celebrate them for who they are and provide encouragement and support for their journeys ahead!”
Each student will be gifted a ribbon shirt or a ribbon skirt that was sewn by Jolene Gopher, Sylvia Kennedy, and many other volunteer seamstresses in our community. The celebration will include a procession where students will wear their ribbon shirt or ribbon skirt, a dinner, performances by Indigenous dancers and a drum group. Elders will also share words of encouragement, and the evening will culminate with a friendship dance for families.
“It is very important for young Indigenous people to have a sense of pride in who they are, and where they come from. This provides a strong foundation that will support them as they move into adulthood,” said Hayley. “It is an absolute joy to see their pride and happiness as they have grown into young adults. Anything we can do in Red Deer Public Schools to help support this is worth it!”
In addition, the community is invited to attend the fourth annual Waskasoo Seepee Traditional Powwow, which will take place on June 24 at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. The grand entry will take place at noon and 6 p.m. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.