Indigenous arts program celebrates largest enrolment yet, more than half non-Indigenous
- NC Raine | December 22, 2017
Saskatoon youth marked the end of a successful year with song, dance, and art at the wrap-up celebration of the Indigenous Arts Program.
The ten week program was attended by 210 students from 21 public elementary schools and five high schools. The students received lessons in powwow dance, powwow song and drum, fiddle, jigging, regalia design, beading, and leather and feather work. The Indigenous Arts program was aimed at strengthening cultural awareness and pride among all students by providing instruction in many aspects of Indigenous culture and arts.
“We're here to encourage and bring empowerment to our young people,” Saskatoon Public School cultural liaison Don Speidel said during the celebration at James L. Alexander School on Tuesday.
“Students are learning songs and dances and concepts around the arts. These things are sometimes difficult to put in a curriculum day, and so it's good to have opportunities like this to help augment what students are already trying to do,” he said.
The students had a special reason to celebrate, as the program this year welcomed its largest enrolment to date. Of the 210 participants, over half were non-Indigenous, says Speidel: a testament to the growing diversity and kinship in Saskatoon.
“The beauty of the diversity and the beauty of bringing people together. Out of the 210 students, over half are non-Indigenous students, so I think we're doing something right in the school and in the province by trying to help young people to try to get closer to Indigenous thoughts and celebrations through song and dance,” said Speidel.
Students, parents, and teachers from across the city were treated to a display of many of the skills acquired through the program, including a fiddle recital, powwow, and drum circle.
“So many people have come together to provide an opportunity for many students over the past many weeks,” said Shane Skjerven, Deputy Director of Education at Saskatoon Public Schools. “It takes a great amount of commitment for everyone to get here.”