Sarnia dance troupe teaches Windsor students about First Nations culture

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Sarnia dance troupe teaches Windsor students about First Nations culture

Students from Hetherington Public School learned about drums, dancing and First Nations history from the Great Lakes Woodland dance troupe.

Matthew Isaac and White Lightning Clark are from Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Sarnia, Ont. Their dance troupe has been around for about a year. They travel to schools and perform dance exhibitions to teach children about their styles of dance.

"It helps introduce a lot of the First Nations students and also non-First Nations students about the First Nations culture," said Clark.

The troupe said they get a lot of questions from students about the words they sing, what they're wearing and how many words they can say in their language.

"It's a really important thing to have and to carry on traditions, language — but in this form it's a fun way of bringing people together," said Clark.

He said the duo like to perform for young people to teach them about Canada's other culture, the First Nations culture. 

"For First Nations students, it's really important to expose them to something they may not have seen before, wondering about their culture, so hopefully this will spark their interest," said Clark.

At the end of the presentation, Clark and Isaac invite children to come up and learn a dance. Third-grade student Xiamara Pujoue was more than ready to show her dance moves, even though she said she doesn't have rhythm. 

"Since I watched the guys that were dancing, I wanted to copy them, so that is why I tried to put all my effort to do the dance," Pujoue said.

Isaac told the students a story about the spirit inside of the drum. Pujoue said she liked learning about the history of the drum. 

"I feel like there is a special type of spirit that helps you with your heart, said Pujoue. "It give it all into you heart and that is how you do the dance."

Hetherington's art teacher Helena Trussler organized the event after being inspired by a workshop she attended where she saw a round dance and learned about the importance of First Nations culture.

"I always wanted my students to have that kind of experience as well," she said.

"To be connected to the environment, to Mother Earth and to the people, the culture."