Each week as Culture Coordinators we search for events happening around our region to put in our e-list. As we searched for this Thursday's e-list we came across the advertising for Tuesday's Aboriginal Day at Keyano. We found this odd that it was not posted the week before, but we wanted to attend. I was elated when I was chosen to attend Aboriginal Awareness Day at Keyano College. It is not an easy task to find a parking spot however! Aside from that the sun was out and the long walk to the Doug Schmidt Theater from the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Center was enjoyable; it is funny how -15 feels so warm. As I walked to the theater I was greeted by an enthusiastic group enjoying sweet treats, tea and coffee. I was pleased that there was a nice turnout due to little advertising. I was delighted to catch up with some people that I haven’t seen in a while, as I use to work at Keyano.
Margo Vermillion opened the day with a speech about the importance of education and incorporating everyday life into Aboriginal teachings. Margo said we need to, “stand, voice and support our youth in education.” This does not just hold true of aboriginal students but all students. She talked about making education interesting for students. We should not make our youth sit in a classroom for 13 years; they need to be immersed in the real world while getting educated. She is right, we can do math lessons outside and science lessons at the lake! These are the lessons that I am sure we remember and that they will remember. Being a teacher I realize the importance of her words. We all as a community can learn from each other and support our youth so they become the strong leaders we will need in the future. No matter what your background is it is important to share your culture and traditions with youth.
I decided after her inspirational opening speech I would attend the drum making session and bead work session. But before that they offered Métis Fiddler and guest guitarist performing in the cafeteria. I was nice to hear the sound of my home, Cape Breton, the fiddle. I must say it did make me a little homesick! After a great lunch I went on to the workshops and was absolutely thrilled to learn how to make a decorative drum and beaded key chain. Julia McDougall is a First Nation Métis Inuit liaison and a teacher for Aboriginal Studies at Composite High School taught decorative drum making. Joy Muise, who is one of Julia’s budding students at Composite High School, taught an enthusiastic group how to make beaded key chains. I left the classes feeling inspired I only wished that I could have stayed and learned for longer.
I hadn’t realized the time, when you get to talking about Culture in Wood Buffalo it can spin in so many directions. I decided at 3:40 to go and see the wonderful artistic talents that were on display at Keyano before they melt with the temperatures forecast to climb by the weekend. They were wonderful! Last time I seen carvings like this was in Quebec during Bon Carnival when I was taking my education degree and that was, well let’s say, a few years back! So get out to see the ice sculptures if you haven’t already before they are gone!