Francis Johnson Sr. had a dream that one day what transpired last Wednesday at Nesika elementary would happen.
“Every day [I worked with the kids] I was so happy,” Johnson said, grinning from ear to ear. “It was just great to see all the kids smiling and being happy.”
For five weeks Johnson led all the school’s grades 4-6 classes in traditional First Nations hoop dancing lessons, concluding Feb. 11 with a presentation in the school’s gymnasium attended by peers, teachers and parents.
The goal, he added, was to allow the school’s students to experience First Nations culture in a fun, educational way, while bringing multiple cultures together.
“That’s what this was all about,” he said.
More than 100 students learned how to hoop dance and each, split up into teams by grade, performed their dance, which ended with a dance-off from the top dancers selected by Johnson and judged by a panel of teachers.
Nikita Potakhin and Rylee Pilkington were two students who finished in the top three in each of the boys’ and girls’ dance-offs, respectively.
“It’s really, really fun,” Nikita said. “You get to learn another activity from another culture so it was great.”
Rylee said it was a great opportunity to learn a new activity, adding making the hoops was a big part of the fun.
Nesika principal Yvonne Davis said it was a treat having Johnson teach the kids, and added the First Nations department of School District 27 and the Parent Advisory Council were instrumental in supporting the event.
“Francis, you’ve got endless energy and you’re inspiring,” Davis told Johnson following the event.
In response, Johnson said he knew it would end up a success.
“Remember? I told you I had a dream, and this is how it ended,” he said.