May 21st, 2024

Students try Metis jigging dance at Indigenous cultures event

By BRENDAN MILLER on May 10, 2024.

bmiller@medicinehatnews.com

Brendan Miller

bmiller@medicinehatnews.com

Through the traditional Metis jigging dance, public school students learned about the importance of preserving Indigenous culture and language as the division hosts a week-long educational event at the college called KisKihkeyimowin, meaning “sharing good teachings” in Plains Cree.

On Thursday, Grade 4 students had the opportunity to learn how to jig dance inside the Ômahksípiitaa cultural gathering space taught by local actor Joel Outlette and his mother Laurie.

Joel told the News how important it is to share his culture with the next generation of students and the importance of keeping the Metis and Cree languages alive to maintain cultural identity.

“When I was in school, we wouldn’t really do anything like this,” says Joel. “Being Metis you just feel like people are missing out on the true history and I feel like learning a traditional dance is a good stepping stone to a more inclusive future.”

Throughout the workshop students were taught about the Red River jig, Metis rabbit dance, the duck dance and the flag dance.

Laurie explains when Metis dancers hear the fiddle it is in part of their nature to dance.

“They want a jig and it’s the heartbeat of Mother Earth,” she says.

Along with dance lessons students also learned how Blackfoot, Metis and Cree people as well as settlers continue to overcome hurdles to work together to build a more inclusive province.

“We all come together, share the land and share the sky and that’s what it’s all about,” says Laurie.

“I think it’s very important to learn about their culture,” said Grade 4 student Leah Leger.

“It’s really important to learn,” added Grade 4 student Janae Reimer.

Throughout the week students in both Grade 4 and 10 have been participating in workshops taught by Indigenous leaders, elders, knowledge keepers and other members of the community.

The week-long educational event was planned to take place in several authentic Cree Tipi structures located on campus, however due to a record amount of rainfall workshops and lectures had to be held indoors at public schools around the city as well as the college.

Despite the weather students were still able to participate in workshops including the circle of courage, art of drumming as well as explore traditional crafts like finger weaving, beading and dream catchers.

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