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Students feast in name of friendship, community

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Tacos, oranges, crafts and cookies.

Students from St. James Collegiate  and George Waters Middle School celebrated the third annual Aboriginal Holiday Friends Feast, held Dec. 6.

"It’s a nice way to end before we head off on the winter holiday," said Lauree Kopetsky, an English teacher at St. James Collegiate who helped organize the feast with the school’s aboriginal student group.

Following a smudging ceremony, the 65 students crafted mini-ornamental headdresses and gobbled up a potluck feast of Indian tacos, oranges, cookies and homemade shortbread, which was provided by North End-based Elsie Bear’s Kitchen.

Close to a third of the school’s 500 students identify as First Nations or Metis, and the feast began as a way to bridge cultures between aboriginal and non-aboriginal students, Kopetsky said.

For collegiate students, the feast is a chance to act as mentors to younger students by helping out with craft-making and managing other activities.

It’s also an extension of other programs such as the Brooklands Literacy Project of the Stevenson Homework Club, where students build connections with young students by revisiting their alma maters.

"As mentors they’re learning about interacting with younger kids, and it gives them the sense that ‘OK, I do have a responsibility to the younger kids in our neighbourhood,’" Kopetsky said.

For neighbouring George Waters students, who participated in the feast for the first time, it’s an inside scoop on what their education life will be like beyond their middle school years.

"It’s building familiarity and continuity to their education and shows that this is where you’re heading and what you can get involved in," Kopetsky said.

The feast has grown from 25 students in its first year.

For more, visit http://sjcnewsfeed.blogspot.ca.

- Staff

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