June 25th, 2024

St. Martha powwow a milestone celebration

By Justin Sibbet - Lethbridge Herald - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on May 24, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDjsibbet@lethbridgeherald.com

With roots deep in Canadian and Indigenous culture, the Children of St. Martha elementary school hosted its 20th annual powwow on Thursday.
Designed to bring students together, the event saw people of all cultural backgrounds dancing and celebrating.
Candace Bradford, First Nations and Metis, Inuit facilitator at Children of St. Martha, says the event offers all students an opportunity to join in the heritage of Indigenous people.
“We believe in sharing our culture and celebrating it for everyone,” said Bradford.
This is her first year with the school, but with a 20-year tradition behind the powwows, Bradford says students soak up the fun every year.
“It’s something that, from the beginning of the year until now, we look forward to celebrating,” said Bradford.
Further to giving the students an unforgettable experience, Bradford says this year’s powwow has given her the opportunity to dance for the first time in decades.
“When I had my child, I took on a different role as being a mom, and I stepped away from dancing, so I’m reclaiming that myself,” said Bradford. “So, it’s really amazing to support my students and dance beside them as they’re learning and to ease their fears.”
She says her son was also able to experience the celebrations during the first years when the powwows began at the school. However, it’s not just Bradford who was dancing and celebrating during the day, she says students also got firsthand experience.
“(The powwow) is and amazing way of bringing our culture into the school, many of our students… it’s their first-time dancing, so we have a lot of nervous kids, but they are doing amazing.”
She says the event will only continue to grow in the future.
“Our long-term impact is to bring our students to feel pride in their culture, awareness to our community and our students,” said Bradford. we work forward through reconciliation and moving forward, one step at a time, one day at a time, we look forward to enriching the lives of all of our students here at Children of St. Martha’s and our external community as well.”
She says her school holds values of inclusivity for all students.
“We don’t segregate our First Nations students in the classroom teachings from other students. We bring (Indigenous heritage) right into their classroom, so everyone gets to be a part of the learning and celebrating the rich culture that we have here in southern Alberta,” said Bradford.
The powwow at Children of St. Martha elementary school says this powwow is one of the final events on the school calendar before the summer break.

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