Oshawa Central CI host its first Think Indigenous Expo
Oshawa This Week
By Kristen Calis
DURHAM -- First Nations drumming could be heard from the halls of Oshawa Central Collegiate Institute on Jan. 8.
In the gym, an audience was treated to a performance by All My Relations, and in the back, a large teepee had been erected earlier in the day by Metis elder Andre Bosse and students who gave him a hand.
“It was actually pretty awesome,” said Grade 10 student Jonathan Michaud.
It was all part of the school’s first Think Indigenous Expo, where students were able to demonstrate their work and understanding of the First Nations peoples of Canada. Over the course of eight weeks, students learned about culture, traditions, history and current issues of the First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples of Canada. This was the final showcase of all they had learned, said Dawn White, one of the teachers who put on the event.
In the halls, students were creating paintings, working with soapstone, and selling items such as dream catchers, miniature inukshuks and soapstone carvings. All money raised will help build an environmental indigenous classroom.
“I’m finding people are interested,” said Grade 11 student Jaimee Austin, who helped carved some soapstone.
Principal Kathy Sivell said she was pleased that it was an inclusive event. Ms. White said students from different classes were able to contribute, including fitness students, culinary students and exceptional students in her senior associated class.
“This event was just everybody coming together,” she said.
Culinary students treated visitors to First Nations fare and a group of fitness students played Aboriginal games with visiting elementary students from Winchester and College Hill Public schools. A Native Studies class presented displays and a Native Studies art class ran a storytelling and art workshop.
“We should be celebrating it more,” said Ms. White.
Ms. White, who has put on similar expos at Port Perry High School in the past, hopes the event will become an annual tradition at Central Collegiate.
“I’m very proud of our students,” said vice principal Carla Noel, who said the school is proud to promote indigenous culture.
Oshawa Mayor John Henry and Oshawa Trustee Larry Jacula were among those who attended the event. Trustee Jacula said he’s always interested in what’s going on in the community regarding Aboriginal culture. He said Oshawa has the greatest percentage of students in all of Durham who self-identify as Aboriginal.
“That’s where it all started. I think the kids need to know that,” he said regarding the importance of First Nations studies in the curriculum.