Bluewater and Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board were excited to move forward with the Aboriginal Symposium – BEAT of the DRUM. This Aboriginal Symposium provided a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Aboriginal culture and accomplishments. The energy in the room was extremely positive as many dedicated people came to support and learn more about the aboriginal learner. The symposium provided the background of a culture rich with history, success stories, and role models. As well, the many trials and tribulations were identified to help understand the historical context of our Aboriginal students and parents. The intergeneration trauma and impact of the residential school system on the aboriginal communities was highlighted by the Bluewater District Aboriginal Advisor Ray Auger.
Chief Ralph Akiwenzie from Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and Chief Randall Kahgee from Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation brought greetings to the celebration with kind words and history of the aboriginal culture. Shirley John, a First Nation elder, set the stage with a pray and smudging. Mary Anne Alton and Bruce MacPherson spoke of the importance of partnerships and the genuine commitment to supporting the learning of all Aboriginal students.
The guest speaker Dr. Pamela Rose Toulouse was a powerful and engaging speaker as she so masterfully modelled her philosophy of what is best for the aboriginal learner in her very active, visual, and humorous hands-on presentation style. She had many people in the room up and actively participating in a workshop that was extremely engaging for all. Many schools from both Bluewater DSB and Bruce-Grey Catholic DSB also celebrated and highlighted the success of our aboriginal children and youth.
A cultural celebration was key in the day as we had the chance to hear drumming and singing from the women’s singing group from M’ Wikwedong Native Cultural Resource Centre and students and parents from G.C. Huston Public School. The symposium ended with a powerful performance from a group of male drummers and singers, as well as fancy, jingle and traditional dancers performing in front of the many truly engaged participants.
A special thanks goes out to the BEAT of the DRUM planning committee: