By Sharon Weatherall
BEAUSOLEIL FN — Students at Christian Island Elementary School put a lot of work into planning their annual pow-wow.
Principal Angela Johnson was scouting around for dancers, singers and drumming groups to take part in the fourth version of the event, scheduled to take place on Wednesday, May 29 from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
“If there are any First Nation students attending other schools we encourage them to attend and join in the dancing, singing and drumming. Our event features many of the traditional elements of a regular pow-wow.”
Previous pow-wows have drawn up to 300 students to the island. With invitations already sent, Johnson was waiting to hear back from local and other First Nation schools. She was concerned that this spring’s teachers’ strike might have an impact on attendance this year, but that threat disappeared. Transportation is always another concern. Those attending must bus to Cedar Point in Tiny Township and catch a ferry to Christian Island.
“That’s why we are holding it within school hours to make it easier for traveling students,” said Johnson.
In the meantime students were busy preparing for the event. Each year for weeks in advance students from kindergarten to Grade 8 and their teachers begin making crafts and planning foods ideas for the pow-wow. The entire school is working on dream catchers to sell.
Each class is responsible for hosting a booth to give students the experience of being vendors while the money they collect is used to support school trips. With help from community members of Beausoleil First Nation, the school is able to deliver a unique educational experience for peers involving native teachings, food and entertainment.
Once again this year the Wasauksing Drummers from Parry Sound were attending, and the agenda included plans for a grand entry with local veterans, a Master of Ceremonies, tours of the island by bus, interactive activities, and a closing feast and giveaway. During the 2012 pow-wow the school celebrated a new Eagle Staff.
“We have always been lucky with the weather,” said Johnson, “and usually host the pow-wow in the school yard with our feast inside in the gym.
“The students have really taken ownership of the pow-wow, which builds self-esteem and self-confidence in them. Everyone gets involved. Our Grade 6 students are even working on regalia to wear — it’s a big endeavour. There is usually lots of food and classes are working on an interactive project to display for guests. Everyone from the school community is looking forward to the pow-wow this year.”