Prince Albert’s Carlton Indigenous Day expands with new features

‘Celebrating one’s Indigenous culture and teaching others to appreciate cultural diversity that we have in our city is a positive step toward reconciliation’

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With more than half the population at Prince Albert’s Carlton Comprehensive High School comprised of Indigenous students, a day to empower those students is vital, says a Carlton teacher.

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On Friday, the school held Indigenous Day, with activities taking place to recognize that cultural diversity on the campus.

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“Celebrating one’s Indigenous culture and teaching others to appreciate cultural diversity that we have in our city is a positive step toward reconciliation,” Carlton teacher Bonnie Vandale said in an email.

“Cultural identity and pride in one’s culture is crucial at any age, but most importantly in youth (and) young adults.”

Vandale, who helped organize the event, said approximately 60 per cent of Carlton’s student population is Indigenous. Those behind Indigenous Day were hoping to use the event to help grow those students’ confidence. Students were encouraged to participate, follow proper protocol when working with elders, learn and teach about powwow dances and regalia, and also to play important roles in the grand entry.

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One of the original organizers of Indigenous Day at Carlton was the late Victor Thunderchild, who was remembered during the event in 2021. Thunderchild was a beloved teacher at the school who died after contracting COVID-19 in April 2021.

“This year a Carlton student has made a bench in honour of his name,” Vandale said.

The grand entry opened at Carlton’s soccer pitch with speeches from dignitaries. Other events included an indoor trade fair and food, a tipi raising and teaching, square dancing and fiddle playing, a free lunch for students and staff, bannock on a stick, drumming, and a performance from the Ivan Flett Memorial Dancers. Cultural workshops included beading, dot art, powwow demonstrations, and storytellers.

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The event and interest in it generated “an overwhelming response within our schools,” Vandale said.

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