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indigenous adult and students

Students, staff and families gathered together on the school grounds at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Blind River recently for a powwow.

The Powwow was the culminating task of the Supporting Racialized Students in Ontario Schools initiative that St. Mary’s was involved in this year.  Nadia Zanatta, Grade 7/8 teacher, submitted a successful proposal for a $10,000 grant – outlining ways of continuing to strengthen our relationship with Mississaugi First Nations, deepening our understanding of the Indigenous culture, and providing learning opportunities for staff and students.

IMG_5724“The support received from MFN is so appreciative and truly recognized.  I am forever grateful for Christine Owl and Jade Daybutch for working with me to plan this beautiful day.  I learned so much from this experience and it makes me excited for future opportunities for our school.  It was an amazing day of learning and understanding.  Exposing the students to as much as we can is the most important.  We need to provide them with these learning opportunities,” said Grade 7/8 teacher, Nadia Zanatta.

The two host drums that joined us were: from Genaabaajiing from Serpent River First Nation, as well as High Eagle from Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island.  A head female dancer, a head elder, and an emcee from Mississaugi First Nation (MFN) were also part of the festivities.

Director of Education, Rose Burton-Spohn, Religious and Family Life Consultant, Sister Pat Carter, and Aboriginal Education Lead, Mona Jones joined in the celebrations as well.

IMG_5731Approximately 250 joined were gathered and were provided a free lunch of poutine, fries, Indian tacos, and refreshments.  Students embraced this cultural experience.  Twelve shawls were made for the students to wear at the powwow by a school parent and her summer student at the Mississaugi First Nation band office.  This is a true example of ‘working and learning together’.

“I had a lot of fun. I really got to experience my culture with my family,” said Grade 8 student, Susan Riley.

“Mississaugi First Nation members and departments have been very generous in their contributions throughout the year as they shared their knowledge with our students in the various activities they brought directly into the classrooms.  Our partnership and relationships have strengthened and I would like to attribute this to the MFN members and families that enabled it.  The powwow was a true testament of  how our communities reach out to each other in solidarity towards a common goal.  We look forward in strengthening our bond in other future endeavours as we continue to strive for growth within our children,” said St. Mary’s Principal, Stéphane Prévost.

“Building community is also so important.  Seeing the students, families, staff, and community members together today was very special.  Learning makes us more knowledgeable – strengthening our relationships, while moving forward together,” said Zanatta.