In honour of the school’s First Nations students and neighbours, Banded Peak School set up a tipi in the school’s front yard.
“I think with these guys it’s just an honour of tradition. By having it here, it recognizes and supports the students here at our school. For us, I think, as a school we’re trying to build some strong connections with Tsuu T’ina,” said principal Simon Pols.
It’s the second year the school ceremoniously erected a tipi and it’s one step in a larger process in bridging the school community to its Tsuu T’ina neighbours across the highway.
“That’s always been a bit of a barrier between our school and the nation so we’re trying to work to connect the two,” Pols said. “We’ve been up there already talking to the high school about having some of their students come down this year to participate in some activities we’ve got. Next year, our hope really is to take this idea here and roll it into something much bigger and have some deeper connections with the elders and certainly with the community.”
The tipi has special significance for the school too. It’s art and paint colours – black, red, green, yellow – reflect the school’s houses.
Some of the Banded Peak students involved in the project have First Nation backgrounds and, for them, it was a way to learn about their roots first hand in a school setting.
“It was one of the only things that native people used as houses,” said Jordan Erasmus reflecting on what he learned from the activity.
“I learned that the first thing you need to do is put up two poles,” said Lucas Rempel.
“It’s really hard to set up, especially when it’s raining,” added Cashius Bigplume.
Several elders and some of their family members came to the school to guide the students.
The students were taught some of the basics about tipis including that the opening of the tipi always faces the sun and that girls sit on the right side of the tipi and boys sit on the left side.
“You never get it right the first time, cause we had to take it down and do it again. It’s really hard to make,” said Gracie Auger-Grier. “I had fun.”
Pols said the tipi building starting last year was the first big connection the school had with the Nation and he is hoping future events will be even more meaningful and possibly more frequent.