By Jesse (With Mrs. Wierenga)
Parkland School Division has a brand new tipi!
Last fall (2011), students and teachers from all the schools (Forest Green, SPC, & MCHS) went to a workshop led by Elder Philip Campinou, a Cree man from Edmonton. We spent the whole day at Memorial School learning tipi teachings and listening to his stories. Elder Philip taught us how to work together to raise the tipi. He taught us how many tipi poles to use, in the First Nations tradition. We use 13 poles, plus 2 extra poles for opening and closing the flaps. We had a smudging ceremony and a good feast.
In May we were ready to paint the tipi. First, some students and teachers had a planning meeting. We talked and learned about what symbols and pictures to use, where to place the symbols (top, middle, or bottom); and which colors to use. We took two papers each and made small plans of what we’d like to put on the tipi. Then we brainstormed together and came up with ‘The Master Plan.’ Our symbols and pictures were chosen to represent some of these things: the parkland landscape, PSD schools and students, First Nations, many cultures, friendship (crossed arrows), and good omen/luck (bear paws). We showed our plan to some Paul Band parents and an elder to make sure everything was good and O.K. to use.
Two weeks later, we painted the tipi at Forest Green School, on the gym floor. Many of our students took turns painting. I did a lot of painting. My brother Colton came over from MCHS one day to help paint. We also had many students from SPC come over to help with the painting. It took one whole week to finish painting our tipi!
Now we were ready for the final stage. The tipi was bundled into a bag & taken over to MCHS. All the students & teachers (from the 3 schools) who had participated in the ‘tipi teachings’ were there. Elder Lloyd Saulteaux had a tipi raising ceremony for us. First he smudged the tipi. Then the smudge was passed around the circle, & we all smudged ourselves. Then we all helped to raise the tipi. It looked beautiful! We ended with a small meal. I ate my soup inside the tipi. It felt wonderful! I’m so proud of the tipi; especially because I was part of every discussion; and I helped plan, paint, and raise our beautiful tipi!
Jesse has attended Forest Green School since grade one. He is very proud of his First Nations heritage, and loves learning about and exploring his unique culture. Art is his talent and his passion. He enjoys sketching, painting, and creating with his hands. He has been an integral part of the tipi project since its inception, and feels a sense of appreciation and ownership in the finished product.