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East St. Paul school celebrates Aboriginal culture

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Dr. F.W.L. Hamilton School’s exploration of multiculturalism culminated with a major celebration at the school on May 30.

Older classes paired up with younger classes to work on presentations ranging from dance to storytelling, which were showed off at a morning assembly. In the afternoon, students travelled to various stations within the school to hear Aboriginal storytelling, songs, games, and snacks.

Organizing teacher Howard Chan said teachers began working with the parents’ council in December to figure out how the day would take shape. Once a basic format was determined, Corey Kapilik and Lisa Aymont Hunter from the River East Transcona School Division’s Aboriginal Academic Achievement program were enlisted to help narrow the focus.

"In consultation with them, (we talked about) what we wanted to do curriculum-wise, whether it was technology, whether it was artwork, and then they spun it off with an Aboriginal spin," Chan said. "(It’s important) to promote Aboriginal awareness — tolerance, understanding."

Principal Tanis Ziprick said that, while it was adults who came up with the idea, much of the rest of the day was student-driven.

"The kids inspired everything we saw in the gym this morning, and all of the presentations," Ziprick said. "The kids came up with some of the learning on their own."

She hopes students were able to come away from the day feeling enlightened about their classmates.

"I hope they got an appreciation and an understanding of each other’s cultures," Ziprick said. "(I hope) they can continue to value the Aboriginal perspective, which has been in this building for many years."

Aymont Hunter and Kapilik met with each of the school’s teacher early in the planning process and Kapilik then worked closely with two of the six presentation groups.

"We were taking the theme of culture and diversity and integrating that and leading that with different outcomes," Kapilik said. "The presentations were a demonstration of the months of hard work in the classrooms."

In addition to the celebration, the school took a silver collection for a water project in Kenya sponsored by Free the Children. Ziprick said the school had raised over $300 through other fundraising initiatives prior to multicultural day.

Chan said the school has had multicultural activities in the past ranging from Festival du Voyageur storytelling, Japanese taiko drumming, and Mexican dancing.

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