Hoop dancers at Miyokisikaw on May 19 at Delton School. Sharon Pasula
Is there evidence that the process of Canadian reconciliation is working? This terminology comes from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action preamble:
“In order to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission makes the following calls to action.” There are 94 in total, addressed to various groups and include a range of topics.
Based on experience I had recently, “Yes” would be my answer. It was my privilege and pleasure to be part of the annual Miyokisikaw (Cree for “It’s a good day”) hosted at Delton School on May 19. Five elementary schools had the opportunity to experience Indigenous culture that included a Grand Entry and dance out, Métis jigging and dancing, drumming, storytelling, Cree language, traditional dance, hoop dance, and traditional games. Each class spent approximately 20 minutes at a station then moved onto another. Stations were both inside and outside in tipis. I did a presentation about the Métis. In the tipi where I was stationed I set up a table of Métis paraphernalia, hung several outfits up, and then smudged the tent before the first group came in.
As the young people settled down on the ground one student said, “I smell smudge.” “That is correct,” I said, very happy that it was an identifiable odour to at least one of them. I then explained about Métis spirituality, that historically most Métis were Protestant or Roman Catholic, but some Métis did and still do embrace Native spirituality by smudging.
Another group came in and I asked what grade they were. “Four,” one of the students said. So, wanting to determine how much they knew, I asked if anyone knew anything about the Métis. One blond haired student put his hand up immediately so I chose him to answer. He gave an accurate and succinct explanation. I said, “Very well done.”
My heart was overjoyed as a different group came in. One visibly First Nations boy said, “My dad does that,” when I explained about smudging. I passed around a bag of sage and a braid of sweet grass. I said, “That’s great.”
Still another group came in and I did the same presentation. As they were leaving, one female student came up to me and hugged me. It was awesome. She didn’t say anything, just hugged me. That warmed my heart. Several of the teachers said they enjoyed the presentation and learned a lot as well.
I was able to affirm Indigenous identity, culture, and spirituality and I also am affirmed. Creator knows how to make it all work together.
Sharon is a resident of Boyle Street.