By Ryan Clarke
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Children of St. Martha School held a fall powwow Wednesday bringing students from across the area together to celebrate Indigenous culture with student drummers and dancing.
St. Patrick Fine Arts, Our Lady of the Assumption and St.
Patrick School in Taber were among those coming to the celebration.
Elder Peter Strikes with a Gun also added to the celebration, bestowing the school with a Blackfoot name, Naatoowootak’oyis, meaning Holy Spirit Lodge.
“We weren’t going to have our powwow till May. But I thought why not change the dates for October, because we have our new grade six leaders receiving a blanket,” said Christina Fox, elder.
“When the grand entry starts, I’m going to be so proud because I’m going to look around my circle, and I’m going to be so proud of my circle. Today’s celebration is about being together. This is one of life’s treasures, people together.”
Receiving the Blackfoot name was an honour for the school.
“Giving us this name means the world to us,” said Shannon Collier, principal of St. Martha. “We are a family here at Children of St. Martha, our patron saint is the Saint of Hospitality. Knowing that we are welcoming community back to the school, this is a family gathering, a celebration.”
Holy Spirit Catholic School Division was pleased to have another one of its schools receive a Blackfoot name, noting the honour it shows towards their Indigenous awareness and teaching.
“When we look at our school division, one of our four board priorities is, First Nations, Metis, and Inuit education for all.
Every opportunity to embrace our cultural activities, language, customs and traditions to be able to celebrate it is a wonderful thing,” said Ken Sampson, superintendent. “Two years ago, Catholic Central received a Blackfoot name. Last year, St. Francis received one as well. It really speaks to that relationship that we have built with our First Nations communities and the elders.”
Seeing a beautiful fall day for a time of celebration, the dancers and drummers presented a beautiful powwow to all in attendance.
“We will have a special dancer that is going to dance at a special spot to bless the Mother Earth and ask for permission to give the beautiful building a Blackfoot traditional name,” said Fox. “Those are one of the ways that we show everyone out there how compassionate First Nations are. This is what we are all about, giving, prayers, acceptance, and generosity.”
Ryan Clarke is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter who works for the
LETHBRIDGE HERALD. The LJI program is federally funded. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI funding.