As part of its mission to see all 50 of its schools install Treaty 6 medals to honour the spirit of Reconciliation, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools representatives joined staff, students and guests at St. Augustine School. The unveiling of the Treaty 6 medal took place at a wonderful ceremony put on by the students on the afternoon of Thursday, April 27. Among those guests were community leaders from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, Sheldon Krasowski from the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, Kelly Herperger the City of Humboldt, GSCS Trustee Debbie Berscheid, and Board of Education Chair Diane Boyko.
Students who filed into the gymnasium were clad in t-shirts bearing the traditional four colours of the Medicine Wheel - red, black, yellow and white. Students have adopted those colours as the basis for their league house for the year, and staff also wore the shirts donated by Nutrien.
The shirts were crested with a unique design by First Nations Artist Mitchell Martin, a beautifully stylized representation of the school’s mascot, the hawk. Brian Hinz of BGH Designs recreated that logo as a placard for the school.
Students recited the blessing of the Four Directions as all participants faced the cardinal directions in turn as the prayer was delivered. The Seven Teachings were delivered by the Kindergarten and Grade 1 class, followed by a marvellous hoop dance performed by some of the students with the accompaniment of a traditional drum song performed by First Nations Metis Inuit (FNMI) consultant and facilitator Delvin Kanewiyakiho.
Grades 7 and 8 students relayed all the inventions that are attributed to Indigenous creators, including the sport of lacrosse, snowshoes, the canoe, the toboggan, among others.
“It’s not only important that students learn these things. It’s important that they have an opportunity to share what they have learned with their parents, families and community members. We are able to bring in the expertise of our elders, knowledge keepers and members of the school division’s First Nations Métis and Inuit Education team to come in and guide us, to share, and to walk along with us in the journey,” said Chad Knaus, the principal at St. Augustine School.
Not only did students sing the National Anthem in Cree, they joined in voice together singing in Cree and English to mark their commitment to Reconciliation.
A release from SGCS notes that Treaty education has been part of Saskatchewan curriculum for about 15 years now. Over the last several years, schools have added different dimensions of learning that include the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Calls to Action, residential schools, and the historical relationships with Indigenous peoples in Canada. That learning was in full display thanks to the efforts of the students and staff in St. Augustine School.
“It blows me away,” said Delvin Kanewiyakiho in response to the demonstration of learning in celebration of the Treaty 6 medal. “These teachers here really care about teaching good things to their kids. It’s all in the resources we’ve developed to be able to help our teachers in St. Augustine, Humboldt, and to be able to pass on these teachings through inservice and professional development.”
Kanewiyakiho calls the kids Treaty ambassadors in that they take the information from FNMI consultants through their teachers, and they spread the learnings to others, living as true partners in Treaty.