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Cultural Room For Sturgeon Lake School

Deanna Wuttunee

Sturgeon Lake - A pipe ceremony blessed the grand opening of a room allocated for cultural activities in the school. Three boys, Jason, Kelly and Shawn Daniels, sang the welcome song lead by Narcisse Daniels, the instructor.

The cultural component in the school is optional and includes storytelling, local and treaty history and cultural and ceremonial traditions. It is written into the reserve's educational philosophy as part of a bicultural program "because we want the children to be able to live and be comfortable in both worlds," according to Earl Ermine, an employee of the school. It's part of the social studies program, and uses elders of the community.

Several elders attended the pipe ceremony, Pat Ermine, one of the oldest members of the community said; "We shouldn't be afraid to talk to our children. We have to pass on our tradition or they will be lost."

Every Thursday is designated as cultural day. Boys are taught traditional songs, drumming, protocol for approaching elders, and spiritual ceremonies. Girls are taught beading and other traditions. The students go to the sweat lodges (which they built) periodically. An advisory committee was set up to co-ordinate these activities. Three days in May are designated for ceremonies by the river.

The cultural component in the school has received attention province-wide. Members from other reserves come to use it as a model for their communities.

The school enrollment is about 300 ranging from nursery to Grade twelve. Sturgeon Lake is about 40 miles northwest of Prince Albert.