Northern Studies program kicks off for another school year

Students listen to Knowledge Carrier Isobel White.JPGSt. Louis School GraStudents give traditional jigging a try.JPGde 4 and 5 students had their first taste of the Northern Studies program yesterday, as they learned about the traditional use of tobacco and gave jigging a try.

"We learned that tobacco is sacred and we learned the number one rule which is respect. I also learned how to say 'Hello' in Ojibway [Anishinaabemowin] and 'I love you'," said Grade 4 student Reagan Halley.

The Grade 4 and 5 classes took part in the program which was split into two sessions. In the first session, Knowledge Carrier Isobel White sat with students in the classroom and spoke with them about the traditional and sacred uses of tobacco. She had them practice passing around a Kleenex in place of the actual tobacco. They also learned a few words and phrases in Anishinaabemowin.

In the second session, students had the opportunity to learn about the history of the Métis in Canada. Theresa Jamieson, from the Ontario Native Women's Association, and Jennifer Coulis, Community Wellness Coordinator from the Métis Nation of Ontario, lead the session. Jamieson explained what she hopes the children took away from it.

"I hope they have more awareness of where our roots come from and how we're all the same. We need to rely on one another, work together and care for one another. That builds community and I think that's what we did today, we built community," she said.

At the end of the session, the students also had the opportunity to try out some jigging. 77-year-old Adele Gordon demonstrated some traditional jigging and then helped them learn one of the movements.

"They're going to eat their lunches today!" said Jamieson after watching the students enthusiastically try to jig. "I think they should have jigging every day and then they'll eat all their healthy snacks."

Through the Northern Studies Program students in Grade 4 and 5 at all Kenora Catholic schools get to explore traditions and activities of First Nation, Métis and Inuit people of our region with hands-on learning opportunities. The program is a collaboration between the KCDSB, Kenora Métis Council, Grand Council Treaty #3 and multiple neighbouring First Nation communities. The program helps develop an understanding of the cultural significance in our area, helping to shape and build bonds and relationships with all peoples of all nations.