Over 200 students from Kenora Catholic experienced the traditions of preparing for winter today at Wauzhushk Onigum Nation at
the 11th Annual Fall Harvest.
The day started with an offering of tobacco in the roundhouse, drumming and a
welcome prayer with Elder, Terry Skead. After the opening, students were able to explore various stations and learn about the
custom of gathering and preparing food including fish, deer and geese, and how to roast bannock over an open fire. Community members had ten different stations set up for students, including a new station this year on how to build a wigwam, which is a small shelter used for hunting.
Macy Forster, a Grade 5 student from St. Louis School attended the Fall Harvest last year and knew what to expect. She was first in line at the wild rice making station. "My favorite part of the Fall Harvest and what stands out in my mind is dancing on the wild rice."
Students learn how the wild rice is harvested and roasted over an open fire. Once the rice is roasted the students are then invited to dance on the rice to help remove the husks.
It was Unique Paypom's third trip to Pow Wow Island. She's now in Grade 7 at St. Thomas Aquinas High School but started attending as part of the board's Northern Studies program when she was in Grade 4 at St. Louis School. "Going to the Fall Harvest is a special experience because I get to learn about the cultural teachings. My favorite part is the bannock making. I also like seeing the moose and plucking the ducks."
Students also got to warm up in the Youth and Elder Center where they could learn how to do traditional beading, and have a warm bowl of soup.
"The Wauzhushk Onigum Fall Harvest is an important event at Kenora Catholic because it helps children learn about the culture that is all around us in Northwestern Ontario," says Phyllis Eikre, Director of Education. "This is our 11th year being invited to attend and we are thankful for the opportunity to partner with Wauzhushk Onigum to provide this opportunity to our students. The community members show us amazing hospitality and give so freely of their time as they pass on important teachings to our students. I enjoy watching the students learn something new each time they visit the Fall Harvest. It's a very special opportunity."
As part of Kenora Catholic's Northern Studies program students in Grades 4 – 5 get to explore the traditions and activities of First Nation, Métis and Inuit people in the region with hands-on learning opportunities. The program helps develop an understanding of the cultural significance in the Treaty #3 area and acceptance for people of all nations.