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”.