As students returned to school on Monday, Jan. 10 in B.C. some in the Cariboo Chilcotin were welcomed with Indigenous drumming and songs.
“I wanted to do something that made our Indigenous students feel pride in themselves and then to give our non-Indigenous students a little bit of awareness,” said Dancing Water Sandy, First Nations curriculum development teacher for School District 27 who organized the drumming events.
“It was a small glimpse into a world that is so rich.”
Reconciliation with First Nations people should be with actions, not just words, she added.
As a local Indigenous person, Sandy is involved with cultural gatherings and ceremonies and was able to organize drumming at 11 schools, although in the end the drumming occurred at nine.
“I have a strong connection with knowledge keepers in our communities so I am able to quickly pull together folks and the ones I don’t know I am able to ask through other people.”
Principals were given a statement to read out to the students that Sandy prepared that greeted the students in all four Indigenous languages of the region.
This year we brought forth a new tradition and experience. We had our special guests – the knowledge keepers – acknowledge you with songs when you arrived today.
Songs are a special form of communication for many nations. For Indigenous cultures music and song are central to identity, place, belonging and are an expression of a unique and continuing tradition. Indigenous music has an important place in the transmission and survival of Indigenous cultures.
It has been a primary means and teaching laws, cultures, storytelling, preserving language, celebration, entertainment and preserving personal stories for generations of people.
This year we decided to welcome you back to your learning community by celebrating your arrival with song.
Thank you for being here and sharing your energy, your hopes and dreams, your unique way of being with all of us.
We look forward to coming together and creating a new year with much to celebrate.
For 2021 First Nations role model Kaden Craig, being part of the drumming group that visited Marie Sharpe Elementary in Williams Lake, it was a bit of a reunion.
“I attended Marie Sharpe,” Kaden said as one of her former teachers, Tanya Isnardy, came up and said ‘hello.’
Joining Kaden were Cecil Sheena, Barbara Mansell, Rita Edgar and William Mansell.
Together the five of them sang and drummed three songs as the students made their way down the hallway and into their classrooms.
“What a wonderful way to start our day and year,” said Kristina Beaulne, principal of Marie Sharpe Elementary School.