Indigenous carnival an experience

By Geoff Lee

February 16, 2016 9:03 AM

Skills teacher Derek Hyland stretches a coyote hide to scrape during E.S. Laird MIddle School's Indigenous Winter Carnival Friday.

E.S. Laird Middle School stepped back in time for their annual Indigenous Winter Carnival.
The event was a celebration of traditional aboriginal culture featuring cook, survival skills and winter leisure activities Friday afternoon.
“We tried to combine the two to make for a fun day,” said teacher Morgan Mann.
Mann headed a staff organizing committee with Tara Stelezki, Amy Hiron and Shawn Donald who came up with fun ways to teach students about First Nation history outside of class.
Mann noted the school is a cultural melting pot like Lloydminster itself with people from all over the world from different cultures with a fair number of aboriginal students as well.
First Nation history is part of the school curriculum in Saskatchewan.
The Indigenous carnival provided a sense of pride for Emma Chocan, a Grade 9 First Nation.
“It means our school is able to share aboriginal culture with everyone in the school,” she said.
Chocan said her contribution to the carnival was to make bannock for the whole school.
“Bannock is wheat — kind of a dough — and you put it in the oven and you make this puffy big round bread,” she said.
Some of the indoors activities included a coyote skinning demonstration, archery, beading and a lesson in how to scrape, preserve and tan a hide the traditional way.
There was also an immersion class on speaking Cree, hand games, drumming and story telling.
It was bitterly cold outside where students played lacrosse, broom ball and curling, along with cooking bannock over an open fire near a set of teepees.
Grade 9 student Kayden Nixon who helped set up some teepees wasn’t sure if he could adapt to teepee living like native peoples in days of yore. “It would be difficult; they didn’t have stores,” he said.
“They had to grow their own food and their own supplies.”
Nixon said one of the activities that caught his interest was the traditional hand games taught by Onion Lake Cree elder Wesley Lewis.
“It’s a fun learning experience and it teaches you what they did in their free time,” said Nixon.
This is the third year of the carnival and Mann said it’s the best one yet with the addition of a school feast.
“We have a lot of young hunters in the school and some staff who harvest wild game,” he said.
The feast included samples of meat from moose, deer, elk, buffalo and some yak.
“We had lots of different meat choices and then we made stews with it,” said Mann.
The wild meat stew included a serving of bannock.

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