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Peel District School Board hosts first-ever powwow

June 6, 2024   ·   0 Comments

Powwow held at Maawnjiding Wiingushkeng Centre for Indigenous Excellence and Land Based Learning

By ZACHARY ROMAN

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A powwow was held in Caledon last Friday. 

On May 31, the Peel District School Board (PDSB) held its first ever powwow at the Maawnjiding Wiingushkeng Centre for Indigenous Excellence and Land Based Learning, which is located at the intersection of King Street and Mississauga Road. 

The PDSB’s Indigenous Education team, and a powwow committee that included community partners, began planning for the powwow in January. 

Indigenous students from the PDSB and Upper Grand, Wellington Catholic, Dufferin-Peel Catholic, and Halton district school boards all attended the powwow. Non-Indigenous students from various PDSB high schools who are in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Studies courses also attended the event to learn about Indigenous cultures.

Nicole Reynolds, the PDSB’s Coordinating Vice Principal of Indigenous Education, explained the theme for the powwow was “Honouring our Youth”.

“Everything that we do here is for the youth because we recognize their right to reclaim who they are as Indigenous peoples… this powwow is a space for them to be able to share their songs and their teachings — or learn their songs and their teachings. It’s a place where they’re able to connect with community,” said Reynolds. “It’s something that the education system originally took away from them, so the fact that the education system is creating space for them to reclaim who they are is pretty significant.”

Reynolds said the PDSB welcomed 11 community partners to the powwow to share their teachings in areas like traditional storytelling, lacrosse and beading. Students were able to drop in and learn in a traditional way. 

“This powwow seems to be a success, people came and they were dancing, when I walked out and I saw the bleachers full of people it was so emotional for me because all that hard work came together,” said Reynolds. “It sparked the fire to do it again.”

At 11 a.m. on May 31, there was a grand entry held at the powwow. During this time, Indigenous students and staff, dancers, community partners, and senior PDSB staff all walked in.

Reynolds said this was her favourite part of the day. She explained having members of senior PDSB staff there was important as it shows the importance of the partnership required to provide opportunities for Indigenous students. It’s a partnership she hopes to see continue.

“It was the hard work of the Indigenous Education Team and the guidance of the community that we serve that made this a success,” said Reynolds. “As soon as the first canopy popped up it brought the powwow to life and it was really exciting to see.”



         

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