Canoe Lake’s Durocher sisters dominate First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee
- Andrea Ledding | March 06, 2018
The big story out of the First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee (FNPSB) held March 4 in Saskatoon at St. Kateri Tekakwitha School was the Durocher sisters from Canoe Lake. Four of them competed, three of them placed in the top three in their categories, and two of them are going to Toronto as first-place winners to compete in the Spelling Bee of Canada in May.
“This is Sierra’s third competition, the first year she didn’t place, the second year she placed third and this year she was determined to win,” commented coach Jessica Iron of the youngest Durocher sister to win first place. “And she did. I’m so proud of her. A lot of hard work on her part!”
Their mother, Charmaine Durocher, said a lot of practice went into the family results, and that was the advice she had to pass on as a key to success. “Practice, practice, practice!” she laughed.
While younger sister Sierra was first place winner in the Juniors category, older sisters Ashlyn and Avrin Durocher ultimately competed against each other in the Intermediate category for top placement, after a large contingent of the competition was knocked out by the word “unanimous”. Ultimately Ashlyn won first place with the word “squall” — which was misheard by the audience to a lot of laughter, but she spelled the word correctly nonetheless — and Avrin took third place behind Aiden Tanner.
Ashlyn and Sierra will both go on to compete in Toronto along with Juniors first place winner Bethy Windigo of Muskowekwan.
Despite a major snowstorm that blanketed most parts of the city and countryside, many youth from across the province made the trip into the city to participate as competitors. This is the third year that the FNPSB has been held, and last year McKenna Fineblanket made history by becoming the first ever First Nations youth to place at the Spelling Bee of Canada National Championships when she won third in the Primary Age Category. In September of 2017, CBC released a documentary called Bee Nation based on the FNPSB, and the National INDSPIRE Awards asked FNPSB to present at their National Indigenous Gathering in Montreal in late November of 2017. FNPSB President Pauline Favel was also honoured for her work and given a national award for Community Service.
Support for the FNPSB comes from title sponsor Affinity Credit Union, along with support from SIIT, the Government of Saskatchewan, Husky Energy, the U of S, Peace Hills Trust, Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, Staples, and the Semaganis Worme Foundation. All of the competitors receive a certificate of participation, and the top three receive a trophy and cash prize, while first place winners proceed to the Nationals in Toronto with a parent accompanying them.