École Puntledge Park Elementary held their first school-wide Indigenous education day on Thursday with a belated winter solstice celebration.
Though winter solstice is typically celebrated on Dec. 21 or 22, the school celebrated in January to give all the students an opportunity to participate.
“With how Indigenous education is growing we wanted to make it an inclusive opportunity for everybody at the school,” said Danna Pattinson, an Indigenous support worker at Puntledge Elementary.
Students had the opportunity to try a traditional meal of bison chili and berries provided by Thrifty Foods and served by store manager Jeff Ackinclose.
Elder-in-residence David Dawson gave a traditional welcome and performed the River Song.
“The River Song is a celebration song about the beautiful river that flows through the Valley,” he said. “The river provides so much life and love to all surroundings. May that same love and life be flowing through our hearts today.”
He added that in Indigenous culture, winter is a time of rest and reflection before springtime.
Throughout the day, students made their own paper Bentwood boxes. Dawson said these boxes are traditionally made using hot rocks and water to bend a single piece of wood into a box shape. This process can take up to a week.
Pattinson, who organized the event, said it is important that every student has the opportunity to learn and participate in cultural activities.
“I see kids connect through culture,” she said.