Carlton Comprehensive High School is hosting Indigenous Day on Friday and organizers have planned a full day of activities to recognize the cultural diversity on the campus.
Carlton teacher Bonnie Vandale has helped organize the event from the beginning. She hopes the event will help everyone unite, reconnect and celebrate people on Treaty 6 territory.
“Celebrating one's Indigenous culture and teaching others to appreciate cultural diversity that we have in our city is a positive step towards reconciliation.,” Vandale wrote in an email to the Herald. “Cultural identity and pride in one's culture is crucial at any age, but most importantly in youth/young adults.”
Vandale said roughly 60 per cent of Carlton’s student population is Indigenous. They’re hoping to use this event to empower students and help them become more confident.
“Students will be encouraged to participate and introduce our speakers, follow proper protocol when working with elders, teach about powwow dances and regalia, and also to MC our grand entry,” Vandale said.
One of the original organizers was the late Victor Thunderchild, who was remembered during the event in 2021. Vandale said they plan to honour him again this year.
“This year a Carlton student has made a bench in honour of his name,” Vandale said. “We will have this at our grand entry and then hopefully move it to where our tipi is going to be set up for the day.”
Thunderchild was a beloved educator at the school who passed away due to COVID-19 in April, 2021. The Grand Entry will open at Carlton's soccer pitch with speeches from dignitaries.
Other events during the day will include and indoor trade fair and food.
New to the Indigenous day celebration is Bannock on a stick, which will be outside east of school near CPAC, drumming, and a performance from the Ivan Flett Memorial Dancers - sponsored by Metis Nation Saskatchewan.
There is also a free lunch for students and staff sponsored by Cameco and a Tipi Raising/teaching - outside west side of school.
Cultural workshops will include beading, pointillism (dot art), pow wow demonstrations, various storytellers and much more. Entertainment indoors includes a performance from Constant Reminder.
After the Grand Entry, there will be a teaching powwow where dancers will discuss the various topics around powwow dancing. The square dancers will be bringing Metis culture with Dean Smith as fiddle player.
The trade show invites people to come and sell various items from food to moccasins and clothing. The breakout sessions will feature dot art, storytellers, beading, Metis quilt storytelling, sash weaving and a mental health workshop.
“Our event is open to the public, but as we have an overwhelming response within our school - the public will only be able to attend some of the events outdoors,” Vandale said. “If you have any questions please look for a staff member with our Indigenous day shirts.”
Vandale thanked the major sponsors Cameco and Metis Nation-Saskatchewan. She also thanked other sponsors SIGA, SaskTel, SaskEnergy, SaskPower, Riverside Dodge, Lake Country Co-op, Limitless Gear, Vacationland News and Carlton.
Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald