By James Wastasecoot
Peguis Central School opened its doors to the Annual Heritage Day and first-ever Inter-school powwow on Friday May 31. In the morning, teachers and students engaged in traditional games and activities in classrooms and on the school grounds. Among the presenters, Norbert Mercredi from Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre, was out to demonstrate traditional games. Students engaged in lacrosse, stick hockey and spinning tops in the bright sun. Beading, gardening, seneca root-picking and animal recognition engaged students in classrooms, brightly decorated for the occasion.
In the afternoon, the Inter-school pow wow took place on the east side of the school set on an expansive lawn where two tipis soared above the crowd. The pow wow began with the grand entry led by Elder Floyd Sutherland, carrying the eagle staff, and followed by flag bearers, members of Chief and Council, elders and School Board representatives.
Chief Glenn Hudson welcomed guests, students and drum groups from participating communities: Sandy Bay, St. Theresa Point, Fisher River, Opaskwayak and Split Lake, and Ebb and Flow.
“When I was a young man, I was introduced to pow wow when I was 11 and so we need to continue our traditions,” he told the gathering which numbered 400.
Education Director, Sherry Sutherland, said that Heritage Day is an important reminder to students of their values and culture. “It’s important to incorporate our culture and history into our school to instill confidence and pride into our students and to showcase our nation to other communities,” she said. “Also, it’s a time of reconciliation for our people to come together and celebrate our children.”
The Inter-school pow wow is the first-ever school pow wow at Peguis Central. It began a few years ago as an initiative by the First Nation Education Directors of Manitoba to bring culture into the curriculum. “We’re hosting for two years,” said Sherry Sutherland. “We received a bundle from Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN). The first two years, Fisher River held it and then the torch was passed to OCN and then it was passed to us and so we’ll be hosting for the next two years.”