The annual Old Wives Lake Festival brings together history, culture, recreation and community pride. Festival-goers enjoy the street fair, engage with the fascinating and emotionally-told history of Mossbank, and many attractions (bouncy castles, face painting) in one weekend. The Town demonstrates the importance of deliberate action to reflecting its diversity through cultural performances, storytelling, food, and music. These evolutions in the festival build the relationships needed for deeper sharing, community cohesion and sustainability.

The Farmer’s Market featured over 30 vendors both local and out-of-town, education sessions about birdwatching which is a popular past-time in Mossbank, and the Bird Sanctuary’s viewing stations to catch a glimpse of the many species that make their home Old Wives Lake.

A thrilled Corky Rasmussen-Turner said; “I had such fun drawing caricatures, and I met some really friendly people! Thanks for letting me be a part of the festival!”.

One of the high points of the event is the famous blacksmith demonstrations, which is really where the festival began years ago and remains the only blacksmith in the province that remains on its original site with most of its original tools.

When students shared their desire to learn to make ribbon skirts and ribbon shirts to honour their culture and themselves, this class project began. The goal was to provide materials and understanding for equitable access to cultural resources, and foster a greater understanding of the importance of ribbon skirts and shirts in First Nations and Métis culture for all students in the class.

Aiming to wear ribbon skirts and shirts at the annual Mount Royal Collegiate Pow Wow, this activity included cultural teachings that increased the meaning of making the clothing. It was interesting that some students planned on wearing them to the U of S Graduation Pow Wow.

One can tell the impact of this sewing project is huge when you listen to some of the sentiments shared by the students. “I have always wanted a ribbon shirt, but I didn’t know anyone who could help me make one or make one with me”, “I feel like I will fit in when we have cultural events at the school” and “I feel so proud that I made this ribbon skirt on my own!”.

All students happily learned about their own or another culture whether they were among the 7 who proudly identified as Indigenous, having Indigenous heritage or Métis, or the eight belong to other ethnic groups (Filipino, various European heritages). Several students asked to continue to study regalia and how different nations of Indigenous people showed their cultures and history through regalia which lead to a discussion on Potlach, Pow Wow’s and other ways of sharing knowledge and historical impact.

A lot of learning comes from experience and being in the moment. Hence, the teachers deliberate actions to normalize incorporation of Indigenous learnings in the school culture to help Indigenous students, staff, and families feel valued. So, working with facilitators and elders outside the school, Grades 10-12 students of Lord Asquith School embarked on an authentic land-based learning opportunity to Askiy-Kamik culture camp on Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. The days’ activities included Tipi teaching, Elder talk, and traditional land experiences.

It was a time of great learning for both the students and their teachers as they were able to physically see how a Tipi looks, how it is erected, as well as given the opportunity to hear the teachings around the Tipi from an elder. Right from the camp, teachers saw opportunities for bringing these teachings into the classroom. While students were more consistent in seeing Indigenous knowledge through a positive lens.

Trey Rousell excitedly said; “It was really fun to learn about a different culture and drink muskeg tea”.

Multi-Faith Saskatchewan and Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan collaborated in the production of this 45-minute video to mark the 150th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation. The project was supported by the Community Fund of Southern Saskatchewan as well as numerous cultural organizations, faith communities and volunteers. Access Communications donated its services in producing the video. The main features of the video are the hopes and wishes by children of different faiths and cultural groups for a peaceful and harmonious Canada, silent prayers, cultural performances and the national anthem by all participants.

For more information about Multi-Faith Saskatchewan visit www.multifaithsask.org. You can view the video embedded below and share it with your networks.