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Aboriginal festivities at St. James Majorby Julie Druker
Photo: Sisters of the Drum members Dorina Friedli, Donna Hollywood and Pam Giroux teach young students traditional songs at the Aboriginal Strawberry Moon Festival at St. James Major
To celebrate the year's end of Aboriginal teaching at local area schools, Aboriginal youth coordinator Marcie Asselstine along with Mary Beth Scott, manager of the Child Center with Northern Frontenac Community Services, organized a year-end festival for kindergarten students at St. James Major Catholic School in Sharbot Lake. The celebration, called the Aboriginal Strawberry Moon Festival, offered students a number of presentations and hands on workshops that included songs, oral story telling, traditional dancing and crafts. Students also had a chance to eat traditional bannock that was prepared on site. Leaders from the local Aboriginal community who made presentations included, along with Marcie, members of the Sisters of the Drum group, Mitchell and Allison Shewell, Lily Davis, Anne Marie and Mary Anne Wilson and Danka Brewer. Students from Land O' Lakes, Hinchinbrooke, Clarendon Central and Sharbot Lake public schools along with students from St. James Major took part in the celebrations.
Thanks to a grant from the United Church of Canada Marcie is able to teach both in the local schools and also in the after-school program offered to youth by NFCS.
Marcie said she feels it is important to give young children and youth a sense of pride in their Aboriginal culture. “I feel that if the students can in any way identify with what I am in teaching that that is what is most important and that I will have reached my goal.” Mary Beth Scott agreed. “Children in our community cannot have an appreciation of our culture unless it is presented to them. This program is an opportunity for them to get some hands on, concrete experiences that they can then use to explore the world around them and it is also a summary of everything that has been covered in their classroom teachings during the school year."