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Simcoe County students get lesson about Indigenous culture (8 photos)

Students from across the region exposed to Indigenous cultures, learn about Metis jigging, Iunit games and other crafts

The Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) sent Grade 5 and 7 students from across the region to Springwater Park Thursday as part of the commitment to Indigenous studies. Students took part in Inuit games, Metis jig dancing and were introduced to pow wow dancing.

Principal of Indigenous Education Alison Bradshaw was happy to see so many kids taking part in the program and hopes they get lots out of it.

“Its really about educating our students, non-Indigenous students for the most part, and our staff about what a Pow Wow is, what happens at one and even about the dancer’s regalia,” said Bradshaw. “The other part of the day is exposing them to other Indigenous cultures like Metis jigging, Inuit games and many First Nations crafts; it really is all about educating in a fun and interactive way.”

The event happens annually and usually in conjunction with the Barrie Native Friendship Centre’s (BNFC) Pow Wow, which has always been set up in the park. This weekend, the 29th BNFC event is being held downtown Barrie at Red Storey field and the SCDSB decided to stay within the park as it was better for the purpose they needed.

Bradshaw knows that kids will enjoy the games and interactive dancing but hopes that upon leaving the park they will understand the deeper reason for the event.

“This event is definitely huge with the current climate in the country,” said Bradshaw. “We keep talking about Truth and Reconciliation but we still have a lot of truth to go before we get to the reconciliation. After the Colten Boushie verdict I think for a lot of people in the Indigenous community it kind of felt like a kick in the gut, like we were doing so much but yet something so wrong could still happen. So, my goal now is to try to help our kids see the humanity in everybody.”

With so many non-Indigenous kids participating in the day, Bradshaw and the many volunteers on-hand were busy keeping them going from station to station for the different activities. While Bradshaw herself is non-Indigenous, she certainly has a personal connection to the event and to wanting a better relationship for all in her community.

“I am non-Indigenous but my husband is Indigenous, my kids are status and I worked for 15 years in isolated fly-in communities; I would describe myself as a non-Indigenous ally,” said Bradshaw. “But it is also personal to me because my kids are Indigenous and I don’t want them to have to deal with what their ancestors had to deal with, or even what others are dealing with nowadays.”