We are excited that Hanover School Division has this year partnered with Sons of the Drum from the Roseau River Anishinaabe First Nation (RRAFN) around the commemoration of Orange Shirt Day. Orange Shirt Day is held on September 30th to remember and learn about the tragedy and turmoil of the residential school system in Canada and the on-going legacy that is left in its path. You can find out more about Orange Shirt Day by visiting the website: https://www.orangeshirtday.org/
Jason Henry, the youth recreation lead at RRAFN, and a member of Sons of the Drum, has suggested we honour this day by allowing an event in our public schools that was forbidden from his grandparents’ school experience and criminalized in his home community until 1951.
The grade 9 and 11 Social Studies curriculums looks at the history and effects of Residential Schools on the culture, language and communities of First Nations peoples, and all of Canada. Students also learn to understand and respect other cultures and worldviews through the ELA curriculums.
The drumming group, along with dancers and a Master of Ceremonies, will be visiting Landmark Collegiate for an hour-long celebration on Thursday, October 1 in the morning. Originally the presentation was going to be for the grade 9 students outside on the west lawn. However, it has now been moved into the gym. The grade 9’s will be able to watch in the gym while keeping physically distanced. We are currently exploring options to zoom the ceremony into the grade 7 and 8 classes and perhaps the grade 11 Canadian History Class. If possible, we will share the link with senior students who are at home who can watch the event live on their devices.
We have spent significant time attending to all the COVID19 related regulations to ensure this is a safe event for your child to attend, and we are following all the provincial, Manitoba public schools and Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs’ protocols.
A few things for you to know that our teachers will be discussing with your child:
Introduction to a New Culture:
If First Nations Drumming and Dancing is new to a student, it might seem intimidating or even awkward. It often feels this way when we are exposed to a different culture. We are taken out of the comfort zone of what we know. We ask that we remember to be respectful in our attention as these traditions are important to the people who are presenting, just like our traditions are important to each of us.
As is traditional in Indigenous communities, we will be presenting the group with a small gift of tobacco. Here is some understanding of why a gift of tobacco is given:
Tobacco is a finicky plant. It takes a long time to grow and needs specialized, and careful tending. The gift of tobacco is a symbolic offering, given to recognize the significance of what the group is bringing in and sharing. The drum group and dancers have spent many years preparing and equipping themselves in their chosen art forms (in some instances their entire lives). We give the tobacco (that takes care and time to grow) as a symbol of the care and time the performers have spent acquiring their artistic expertise. It is a sign of respect for Anishinaabe peoples.
Opening in a “Good Way”:
In Anishinaabe culture, before presenting or performing the understanding and expectation is that your heart will be focused on goodness. To this end, there is often an Elder or Knowledge Keeper that opens with a prayer in their language (or sometimes in English) inviting all to partake from a place of goodwill, kindness, and love. We invite the Elder/Knowledge Keeper to open in a way that he or she finds meaningful in an effort to repair the relationship and right the wrongs of history. For many years Indigenous prayers and ceremonies were banned and even criminalized. The reason we provide space and do not censor Indigenous Elders/Knowledge Keepers is because of the irreparable harm policies like these have had, and continue to have, on Indigenous people. If you prefer that your child join the presentation after the opening, please let us know, so we can make other arrangements.