(Fort McMurray, AB - September 22nd, 2023) Fort McMurray Public School Division (FMPSD) grade 5 students recently embarked on a thrilling and immersive journey to attend the Athabasca Tribal Council’s annual Cultural Festival on September 14th. This brilliant and culturally rich festival offered more than seventy workshops, demonstrations, and performances that showcased the region’s vibrant Indigenous culture.
The students had the unique opportunity to participate in jigging lessons, where they learned traditional dance styles passed down from generation to generation. Additionally, they got their creative sides flowing by engaging in fish scale art workshops, where they artfully arranged fish scales to create breathtaking designs that reflected the local artistic traditions. The students also had their fair share of fun by learning to say phrases in various FNMI languages, which brought out their playful and imaginative nature.
The festival also allowed the students to listen to captivating Elder stories, which gave them unique insights into the region’s storied history and cultural heritage. Further, the students learned the art of making traditional bannock, a staple food in Indigenous cuisine. They had the exciting chance to witness the trappers and hunters as they displayed how they cleaned and prepared meats, tended hides and used traditional tools.
Land-based learning programs such as these are a vital component of FMPSD’s commitment to providing students with a range of learning experiences that promote exploration for inquiry in natural and built environments. These land-based learning experiences enable students to connect with the land and the environment more profoundly, thereby helping to cultivate an understanding of critical environmental stewardship, traditional knowledge, local food production, and more. These programs teach students everything from plant identification and ecology to carpentry and sustainable farming practices.
Superintendent Annalee Nutter applauds the ATC Cultural Festival, praising its captivating and educational activities that students thoroughly enjoyed.
“Every year, the Athabasca Tribal Council outdoes their planning from the previous year, and this year was no exception. Watching the students engage in Dene and Cree language learning activities was exciting. The students love demonstrating their new knowledge, soaking it up like sponges! Many of them look forward to the engagement with Elders and Knowledge Keepers. Hearing their stories, laughing with them and being in a space where they can learn on the land is authentic and rewarding for our students. We appreciate being invited to attend this highly popular learning event each year.”
FMPSD recognizes that these land-based learning experiences help foster a sense of connection to the land and community, promoting lifelong stewardship values imperative to our future survival. By providing students with these hands-on, real-world learning opportunities, FMPSD is setting them up for success in school and beyond while promoting cultural diversity and inclusivity. We acknowledge the Indigenous people who have hunted, gathered and lived on this land for centuries and appreciate learning from them so we better understand their lived history.
For additional information, contact:
Fort McMurray Public School Division