It is an hour they look forward to all week long. Since November, students at five schools across Pembina Trails has been participating in a beginner powwow, NI NIIMI’IWE, program.
The 11 week sessions are offered in partnership with the Aboriginal School of Dance and aim to provide our students with an authentic learning experience. There is an opportunity for a much deeper understanding of the history and meaning behind the dancing ceremony of powwow.
For Senika, a grade 5 student at Chancellor School, the highlight of her day is learning and performing dance combinations.
“I feel proud, I get energy and it feels sacred. I feel like I am doing something for my ancestors and great grandparents, so they can be proud of me.”
Senika is only 10 years old, but already aspires to become a powwow teacher and looks up to Aboriginal School of Dance’s founder Buffy Handle.
“I’m so excited. My parents say they have seen me grow and they know how much I love it.”
Across the room at powwow club, grade 6 student Bronson is busy working on designing his own regalia. This is one of the many activities students get to experience through the program.
Bronson grew up on Garden Hill First Nation and only moved to Winnipeg three years ago. The 11 year old is particularly interested in learning Cree and Ojibway.
“I find this so interesting. I did not know all this about my culture when I was little.”
The positive impact is far reaching. Chancellor School principal, Judy Farrell, has watched pride move into the hallways and throughout the school.
“Our powwow club has had a powerful influence on our students,” principal Farrell. “Each week brings a stronger sense of connection to the teacher and culture through language, design and dance. The opportunity has helped build school connections, student confidence and feelings of cultural pride.”
The sessions are part of our board’s ongoing commitment to Indigenous student success. These opportunities also connect to our divisional path of Truth and Reconciliation. The 2020-21 draft budget is proposing to grow our Indigenous teacher network and continue working with our Indigenous scholar in residence. Learn more about this investment here.