Students at Ponoka Outreach School took part in a special Nitotahwin gathering recently to not only create an uplifting student experience but to also determine students’ greatest needs. Photo submitted

Ponoka Outreach School hosts Nitotahwin gathering

Creating uplifting experiences while determining students’ greatest needs


Students, staff, elders, and family members gathered at Ponoka Outreach School (POS) to participate in a Nitohtahwin Gathering and a traditional Cree feast recently.

This event focused specifically on creating an uplifting experience for students while attempting to determine their greatest needs.

Nitohtahwin means “listen to me” and this event was an opportunity for Outreach students to express their opinions on how programs are delivered at the school. The students’ input will have a very real impact as teachers continue to plan and adjust programs this school year.

Honouring Cree culture is an important aspect of reconciliation at Ponoka Outreach. As a result, the morning sessions for students were organized around the traditional Cree medicine wheel.

Students circulated through four different sessions, each of which followed the theme represented by the colours of the medicine wheel: red – spiritual, yellow – physical, white – mind, and blue – emotional. In each session, students participated in activities that involved honest discussions of issues that are concerning to students. Students also related their personal experiences as learners at the Outreach School with the emphasis on finding ways to improve instruction for all students.

Ivy Albaracin, who has attended POS for two years really enjoyed Nitohtahwin.

“I really liked Nitohtahwin. It’s really great that the teachers are encouraging the students to talk about themselves,” said Albaracin. “Some students are having a hard time at home and at school and I think this really helped them.”

“The Nitohtahwin sessions were meaningful to me and many other students,” stated Tical Rowan, Grade 10. “It was great to see the students talking about their culture.”

Following the 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 students and staff. The event was facilitated by Ms. Erin Freadrich, Acting Assistant Principal at Ponoka Outreach.

Acting assistant principal Erin Freadrich was pleased with how the day turned out.

“It’s really inspiring to be a member of a community of learners, including both staff and students, who work so hard to find success at Ponoka Outreach School.”

“I’m extremely pleased with the level of participation and the quality of the feedback provided by our students. Their concerns and suggestions will definitely affect our planning and program delivery.”

In addition to bringing food for the feast, students also worked hard setting up the feast, serving the food, and cleaning up afterwards.

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