Based on this 2018 article by Sissy Thiessen. Updated by Andrea Dion, Resiliency Coordinator, Treaty 6.
WE ARE SO EXCITED THAT YOU ARE PLANNING A CELEBRATION!
It is our hope that every student in Alberta experience the diversity of Indigenous cultures on National Indigenous Peoples Day! Every year on June 21, schools all across the nation take the opportunity to celebrate Indigenous culture and history.
A way that many schools commemorate this special day is by hosting school-wide activities and celebrations. Many Alberta school jurisdictions have specific departmental support for Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) students and Indigenous content across the district, so be sure to connect with your district to see what supports are offered.
Whether this is your first year hosting such celebrations, or you’re a seasoned school event manager looking for new ideas, the following information is for you!
- Consult an Elder or Knowledge Keeper: This is critical to ensure all your activities are culturally and territorially appropriate, as well as to provide opening prayers, activities or teachings. Prior to the event, protocol should be presented to these keepers of knowledge. Tobacco should be presented upon meeting with the Elder, in person, when requesting an Elder’s prayer or presence at an event you are hosting.
- Honour Student Voice: Form a leadership group that plans Indigenous-focused events and initiatives, as well as conducts land acknowledgements.
- Make It a Week-Long Event: Allocate individual days to showcase Métis, First Nations and Inuit cultures. Activities could include raising a tipi, making bannock, learning how to jig or throat sing, hosting dancers, performers or playing traditional games.
- Have a Fire: Use or make a fire pit to bake bannock on a stick, have an Elder or Knowledge Keeper share stories, read a book or make a craft.
- Let Your Students Shine: Give stage, announcement, bulletin board or gallery space to your First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists, musicians, speakers, writers, dancers or other student performers.
- Create Collaboration: Create space and structure for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students to gather, plan and participate in intercultural exchanges.
- Host a Celebrity: National Indigenous Peoples Day is a great day to invite Indigenous role models such as authors, artists, athletes and performers into your school.
- Make it Indigenous-Themed: Consult a local Elder, Knowledge Keeper and/or your district Indigenous support department to include traditional language, history, dance, stories, arts and crafts into all subject lessons.
- Host A Family Event: Plan and invite families to a school-hosted round dances, feasts, mini Pow Wow or other event.
- Have a Flagstaff Ceremony: Invite an Elder and leader from a nearby Indigenous community to create and raise a traditional flagstaff to mount alongside the provincial and national flags.
- Introduce A Ceremony Space: Make space and create a policy for smudging indoors, have sacred medicine available onsite and arrange for an Elder or Knowledge Keeper to visit regularly. Common forms of sacred medicine are Tobacco, Sage, Sweetgrass, Cedar, Fungus,etc.
- Take A Trip: Take students on a field trip to a local Indigenous community or centre to participate in one of the various National Indigenous Peoples Day events taking place across the country and province.
- Rock Your Supportive Swag: Make sure to put on t-shirts, pins, buttons, ribbons and other wearable awareness items, both on National Indigenous Peoples Day and for other important campaigns throughout the year such as Orange Shirt Day, The ReDress Project, Traditional Anti-Bullying and the Moose Hide Campaign.
- Connect with your local Alberta Native Friendship Centre.
- For more information on the above mentioned activities see Healthy Schools Alberta Magazine article.
- History of Indigenous People’s Day https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100013718/1100100013719
- Excerpts from Truth and Reconciliation Commission – Calls to Action: http://trc.ca/assets/pdf/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf
- Additional information from the The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples.html