Grade six and seven students from nine Vancouver elementary schools gathered in the Museum of Anthropology's Great Hall for the 5th annual First People's Festival on May 9th. The event featured cultural workshops and performances from a range of Indigenous artists and educators. The goal of the festival was to highlight the depth and diversity of First Nations culture while offering students an opportunity to develop greater knowledge and understanding of the lives of B.C.'s First Peoples past and present.
After an opening ceremony, which featured an original song performed by grade three and four students from Queen Mary Elementary, each class moved to one of the nine stations scattered throughout the Museum. In the Pow Wow dancing workshop, multicultural dancer Shyama-Priya explained, "The drum beat is the heart beat of mother earth. It is the heart beat of the Pow Wow, it gives life to the Pow Wow." Metis fiddler JJ Lavallee led the workshop on Metis teachings. "It's important to remember your history, be proud of who you are, Lavallee told the students. "You'll pass that on to your kids."
As she toured a group of students through the wooded area surrounding the Museum for the Traditional Plant Knowledge workshop, Senaqwila explained how she learned much of what she knows about local flora from her mother. "When you take a part of the plant you say hay chxw q'a - thank you."
Other activities included Traditional Weaving, the MOA Potlach Program and the Kairos Blanket Exercise. The Festival continued on Tuesday, May 10th with students from 12 secondary schools attending.