Across Canada, National Aboriginal Day is recognized annually on June 21. This date was chosen because of the cultural significance of the summer solstice—the first day of summer and longest day of the year—and because many Aboriginal communities mark this day as a time to celebrate their heritage. Setting aside a day to acknowledge National Aboriginal Day is part of the wider recognition of the founding place of Aboriginal People within the fabric of Canada.
Pictured: Raven Murphy did medicine wheel teachings with students.
At Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board, several schools have courses related to Aboriginal culture and awareness. We highlight Prince Edward Collegiate Institute, which hosted Aboriginal Awareness Day on Wednesday, June 13, 2012.
Aboriginal Awareness Day at Prince Edward Collegiate Institute
Students from Erin McFaul’s Grade 11 Current Aboriginal Issues class organized and hosted this event for all PECI Grade 9 and 10 students, as well as senior students from neighbouring elementary schools. The day began with guest speaker Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Family and Child Caring Society of Canada. Ms. Blackstock spoke about current inequities of funding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children. She made the students more aware of current issues facing First Nations children, as well as offering suggestions for ways that all Canadians can get involved.
A variety of workshops were offered throughout the day, specifically the following:
- Mohawk Traditions and Culture
- The Impact of Residential Schools
- Medicine Wheel Teachings
- Mohawk Languages
- Traditional Drumming and Dancing
- Traditional Medicines
- Land Claims and History of Tyendinaga
Students of Ms. McFaul’s class also presented a panel of projects called "Did You Know?" These course culminating activities focused on current issues facing Aboriginal Peoples which the students felt the whole school should be aware of.
Pictured: Teacher Erin McFaul (left), student in the Grade 11 Current Aboriginal Issues class, and Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Elder Tom Porter.
"The purpose of this event was for students and staff to meet Aboriginal community members and Elders to develop a deeper understanding of our neighbouring First Nation communities and the issues that affect many Aboriginal communities throughout Canada," remarked McFaul.
In addition to the workshops, students tasted traditional foods prepared by students. They also viewed artwork created by the Grade 9 Aboriginal Art classes.
All workshops were well-attended. Students were engaged and it was obvious they had lots of fun.
"It was a day of positive experiences which promoted awareness of Aboriginal cultures while showing the importance of positive community relationships," added McFaul.
This event was possible through the support of a Project Enhancement Grant from The Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation.
For more information, please contact:
Kerry Donnell, Communications Officer, 613-966-1170 or 1 800 267-4350, extension 2354, firstname.lastname@example.org