May 11, 2022
The Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) Prince Albert campus has a long-standing tradition of participating in an annual Sprinter Festival. Traditionally the Spring/Winter event, held at Little Red River Park on the outskirts of Prince Albert, included competitive events such as log sawing, fire starting, tea making, animal call, log toss, and a variety of other Michif outdoor activities. This year an opportunity presented itself, one that SUNTEP staff and students could not pass up.
Earlier in the school year, W.J Berezowsky Public school secured a grant to put on a cultural event for their students.
The school administration approached SUNTEP with the opportunity for SUNTEP students to facilitate an event. SUNTEP staff jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with the local school, as throughout the pandemic, additional planned teaching opportunities for students had been difficult to achieve.
It was decided that the SUNTEP students would facilitate a Cultural Sprinter Festival for the school in place of their typical SUNTEP-only event from previous years. When the idea was presented to the first, second, and third-year students, you could feel the excitement in the air. They immediately began brainstorming and planning their sessions.
The event was held on Friday, March 25, 2022. Weather and snow had been a concern throughout the planning process as many events were outdoors, but any concern dissipated that morning as the day dawned bright and sunny. Students arrived at the school early to set up their events and activities prior to opening ceremonies. The school was alive with the sound of excited chatter and laughter, drummers warming up, notes of the Red River Jig, and the bright colours of student’s Métis sashes, ribbon skirts, and shirts. The Sprinter Festival our students had planned was finally here!
The day began with an opening ceremony presented to the classrooms via Zoom from the school gym. A land acknowledgment and welcome were shared, followed by the offering of tobacco to elders and guests. An Opening Prayer and Smudge was led by Elder Liz Settee to start the event in a positive way.
In total, four 40-minute sessions were offered to each of the nine classes ranging from Kindergarten to Grade Eight. W.J Berezowsky students had the opportunity to participate in the following indoor and outdoor sessions:
The Cultural Sprinter Festival was an overwhelming success. The feedback received from administration, teachers, and staff at W.J. Berezowsky was that the SUNTEP students had outdone themselves with hands-on and engaging cultural learning for their students. Spending the day in the school, sharing their Métis and First Nations culture, had SUNTEP students walking away with a greater sense of confidence as student-teachers, pride in themselves, and a strengthened identity as future Indigenous Educators.