FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION, Ont. – Students from a local elementary school received a taste of Aboriginal culture Tuesday.
Fort William First Nation hosted the student body as well as staff and family from St. Ann Catholic Elementary School for a Feast with Friends to celebrate friendship and new beginnings.
Georjann Morriseau, chief of the Fort William First Nation, considers it important for adults and parents to recognize their role as teachers and to provide valuable lessons to children.
“It’s crucial for the children because they need to understand from an early age that when you build and work together you accomplish more,” she said. “We want to set a good example and teach our children to lead by example.”
Close to 200 students from the kindergarten to Grade 6 school went to the ceremony in the afternoon at the Fort William First Nation Community Centre. They experienced a traditional prayer, were treated to a feast as well as getting the opportunity to sing and drum with Morriseau and elders.
St. Ann principal Jan Bazaluk said a significant portion of the student population at the school hails from Fort William First Nation. The celebration is the latest instance in how the school has been working to connect with the First Nation.
The school partnered with Our Lady of Charity Catholic Elementary School for an annual powwow during their Remembrance Day ceremony. They have also worked with community groups for morning and after school programs to provide teaching about Aboriginal culture.
St. Ann hosted for Morriseau for an event earlier in the school year, a visit that left an impact on many of the children.
“I think students need role models and I think she is a very significant role model kids in the Aboriginal community can look up to,” Bazaluk said. “I think it’s really important to give kids experiences where they feel not only connected to their school but to the communities they come from.”
After Morriseau’s visit, students were tasked with a writing assignment to express what they learned from the chief.
Bazaluk said many students used phrases such as “having goals and dreams” and “not letting anybody hold you back” as lessons that were learned from Morriseau. Some of the students presented their pieces to her at the ceremony.
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