Ponoka Outreach School students meet with staff and elders Oct. 26 to discuss ways to build on success in four different sessions held at the Nitohtahwin Gathering.

Ponoka Outreach students host Nitohtahwin Gathering

Students, staff, elders and family members gathered at Ponoka Outreach School to participate in a Nitohtahwin Gathering.


Students, staff, elders and family members gathered at Ponoka Outreach School to participate in a Nitohtahwin Gathering and a traditional Cree feast on Oct. 26.

Nitohtahwin means “listen to me,” and this event was an opportunity for students and families to express their opinions on the educational opportunities provided by the Outreach school. Following a morning of excellent group discussions and activities, the students, staff and elders were joined by family members and many other guests to enjoy a traditional Cree feast.

This event was planned by a group of students and facilitated by teacher Erin Freadrich. The morning sessions for students were organized around the traditional Cree medicine wheel. Each session followed the theme represented by the colours of the medicine wheel: red spiritual, yellow physical, white mental and blue emotional. Students participated in activities designed to create a comfortable, supportive environment where they could discuss what does and doesn’t work for them as learners.

“I feel so fortunate,” stated Freadrich. “To be part of a community of learners and teachers who work incredibly hard to ensure the success of everyone. The Nitohtahwin Gathering provided invaluable feedback that we can use immediately to enhance the learning potential of all our kids.”

Shelagh Hagemann, Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) First Nations, Métis, and Inuit student success co-ordinator, played an important advisory role in this event. “To succeed with our First Nations students, to really understand what they need to excel, we need to give them an environment in which they feel safe expressing their needs and concerns. Once they feel safe, they are open to providing suggestions on how we can best serve them.”

Also in attendance was WCPS superintendent Jayson Lovell. “I commend the staff of Ponoka Outreach School for organizing such an incredible event. They put students at the centre of everything they do and by asking students what helps them achieve and grow in their learning, they are honouring their students’ voices.”

Principal Ian Tisdale is an educational leader committed to the full participation of students, staff and community in pursuing the goal of excellence. “I am thrilled with the deepening of relationships within our outreach school community and I am excited to use the information collected to guide our practices moving forward.”

Nearly 100 people attended the traditional Cree feast. This celebration of Ponoka Outreach School’s long and highly productive partnership with Maskwacis was a great opportunity for everyone to participate in a profoundly meaningful ceremony and traditional meal.

Charlene Rattlesnake, Grade 11, is new to the school. So far, she loves it and really enjoyed the Nitohtahwin Gathering. “The sharing circles had a good energy. When they were talking about what makes learning hard for you, it was nice to hear that other people struggle.”

“I liked the session where we wrote down what we are feeling about our challenges at school,” added Jasslyne S., Grade 11. “I think teachers will be able to help us more now.”

“A real highlight for me,” stated teacher Shelia Strychalski. “Was watching non-aboriginal students experience First Nations culture in a truly authentic way. I love how they got to feel the closeness we have throughout our entire school family.”

Many of the First Nations students appreciated the many non-aboriginal students who chose to attend this event. “It’s important to do stuff like that,” stated John Crane, Grade 11. “We can all connect and know where we’re all coming from. It helps us all learn and achieve together.”

Dreton Foureyes, Grade 12, participated in the traditional Cree feast as a server: “I think it’s great a lot of non-aboriginal people participated because they learned about our culture. I think they understand that it’s something they should respect.”

It was a great day overall and a very uplifting experience.

“Today was the best day ever,” stated Shaleece Rattlesnake, Grade 11. “Everyone participated and that was great.”


Just Posted

Blackfalds RCMP seeking information on activities of stolen Fountain Tire Truck

Blackfalds RCMP recovered truck following earlier collision and car-jacking

Blackfalds RCMP on scene of school bus collision and car jacking

RCMP are looking for a silver 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander with Alberta license plate BNR655

Province denying Ponoka funding, further action being touted

MSI and other funding sources now gone until town rescinds motion to withhold property tax money

Ponoka developing long-term guide on transportation issues

Safety is the top concern that residents want addressed as master plan is generated

Ponoka hosting Winter Games torch relay

The Canada Winter Games torch relay is coming to Ponoka

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

Top Canadian athletes inducted into the Canada Games Hall of Honour

Athletes doing incredible things for communities are inducted into Hall of Honour, says Games CEO

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after truck collides with six vehicles

No one was injured and the male driver was restrained by a nearby resident until police arrived

Liberals look to make home-buying more affordable for millennials: Morneau

Housing is expected to be a prominent campaign issue ahead of October’s federal election

Man accused of threatening to kill ‘as many girls as I see’

Christopher W. Cleary wrote he was angry because he’d never had a girlfriend and wanted to ‘make it right’ with a mass shooting

Cannabis-carrying border crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

Penalties are slated to be in place some time next year

Alberta government to partially backstop new $2 billion dollar bitumen upgrader

Project would create more than 2,000 jobs during construction

Most Read