| Jun 25, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - June 25, 2009 Strawberry Moon Festival – Teaching from the heartBy Chava Field-Green

Rose Moses sharing a porcupine quill box with students from LOLPS

There are only a few things that are more adorable than a giant circle of kindergarteners, but a giant circle of kindergartners howling like wolves or growling like bears is one of them. Everyone who was in attendance at the Strawberry Moon festival at St. James Major Church Hall last Wednesday can attest to that.

Kindergarten classes from Land O’Lakes, Prince Charles, Hinchinbrooke, and Sharbot Lake Public Schools, as well as students from St. James Catholic elementary gathered together for a festival that was the culmination of the Storytelling Circle for the year.

The morning started off with the Sister’s of the Drum performing in the middle of the circle. Among the songs they performed was “Heart berry the strawberry, teach me how to forgive”. In keeping with that theme, Danka Brewer presented a story of forgiveness that ended when two brothers realized how much they loved each other upon finding heart shaped berries, strawberries.

The Storytelling Circle in primary classes is a project that was developed and is run by Marcy Webster, Aboriginal Coordinator for the Ontario Early Years Centre in Sharbot Lake, She visits Kindergarten classes and shares her Algonquin heritage, awareness, language and stories.

The program is funded in part by the United Church of Canada Bay of Quinte Mission but mostly by a joint grant from the Limestone District School Board and the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board. Madeleine Tarasick played a large role in writing the proposal.

“The program is great not only for children of aboriginal descent but for all children. We’re starting at the beginning stages to create strong communities together. Helping families to self identify themselves and introducing exiting culture and traditions.” Tarasick said. “This would not have been possible if not or the Early Years Centre replacing Marci on the days that she visits the schools”.

After Danka finished her story, the children broke into three groups, with each child making a talking feather,

“…no not a feather that talks” Marcy said, “when first nations people gather in a group, it gets loud. We hold a talking feather, so that everyone will listen and respect the speaker”.

At another station, OPP officer Paige Whiting read Joseph Bruchak’s book “First Strawberry – a Cherokee story”, and then each child was given a delicious strawberry.

Rose Moses was at the third station where she showed each group a variety of handmade first nations artifacts, tools, and toys.

Back in the big circle, each class performed a presentation and thanked Marcy for coming in and teaching them.

But Marcy said she gets almost as much out of it as the kids.

“I like seeing the children identify with the stories I tell. They know that I’m aboriginal and sometimes they say, ‘oh I am too’. They’re just like sponges, they can remember every word I’ve taught them. It’s really rewarding”.

A proposal is in the works to continue the program next year, and Marcy has suggested that the program be extended up to Clarendon Central Public School as well.

After one year of “Marcy Days” as the children call it, she hopes the Storytelling Circle will continue to teach children across the county about the history and tradition of the community’s ancestors and diversity.

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