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Piapot arts community remembers those lost

Students preschool to grade 12 all participated in the arts and language festival.  (Richard Agecoutay/CBC - image credit)
Students preschool to grade 12 all participated in the arts and language festival. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC - image credit)

An arts festival at Chief Payepot School this year was also a memoriam for four artists who died on their way to the community eight years ago.

The theme of the fifth annual Piapot Memorial Arts and Language Festival, held Thursday on the First Nation about 50  kilometres north of Regina, was  "Honouring the Buffalo."

It was the first time the festival was held in the Piapot community since 2018. Students, parents and elders gathered for a collection of visual art, dancing and singing.

Richard Agecoutay/CBC
Richard Agecoutay/CBC

Principal Nicole Crowe said the festival is considered ceremony for the school.

"Today is about making Treaty 4, to celebrate our artists that we lost and what we learned from them," Crowe said.

The festival honoured four members of the arts community who died in a 2015 car crash: Michele Sereda, Narcisse Blood, Michael Green and Lacey Morin-Desjarlais.

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The four were on their way to Piapot to discuss plans for a program called Making Treaty 4.

Each was a prominent member of the Regina and Calgary arts scene.

The accident left the arts community in shock. Chief Payepot School staff cancelled the arts and language festival that year.

Preserving culture 

Samantha Morris-Kaiswatum, a Grade 12 student, considers the festival an honour.

"The culture is very important to us to showcase because our language is dying and after our elders and elderly people pass on, it's really a chance that this will not exist anymore," said Morris-Kaiswatum.

The artwork decorating the school was all done by the students, including a buffalo hide prepared, hung and painted with symbols.

Richard Agecoutay/CBC
Richard Agecoutay/CBC

The showcase was a collection of the school's interdisciplinary art programs.

Each class, preschool to Grade 12, worked on a visual project together and prepared a performance.

Students from surrounding areas were in attendance. Lumsden School and Standing Buffalo School students participated in the festival with songs and language presentations.

"This is what it's about, bringing people together," said Crowe. "Good thoughts, good feelings for our children and our community."

Richard Agecoutay/CBC
Richard Agecoutay/CBC
Richard Agecoutay/CBC
Richard Agecoutay/CBC