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Jack Kemp kindergarten brings Indigenous interests into the classroom

Kindergarten students at Jack Kemp Community School we’re able to get up close and learn from traditional Indigenous drummers.

Students from Bishop Lloyd Middle School came into the class to give a presentation and answer questions about the traditional drums and drumming.

Learning about Indigenous culture is part of the students’ cultural immersion curriculum and follows the interests of the students. Jack Kemp teacher Kelsie Sutherland says the presentation exposes students to traditional ceremonies and helps them find a connection to Indigenous culture.

Teacher Kelsie Sutherland says she was showing her students videos of powwow drumming and dances when one of the students showed a particular interest and walked up to a bongo in class and drummed along. Sutherland and teachers at Bishop Lloyd Middle School then got in contact to set up a drum presentation for the kindergarteners. 

“Collaborating with other teachers gives our high school students a chance to share their knowledge because we know that knowledge is not just given from adult to child it’s intergenerational.”

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Gage Chocan, a Bishop Lloyd Middle School student, was one of the drummers. He says he started drumming last year as he wanted to learn more about his cultural background.

“It’s sort of an honour to be teaching these kids about my culture and my friend’s culture,” Chocan says. “It’s cool to see the expressions on their faces and seeing that they think it’s cool.”

Chocan hopes to share more of his culture with kids and adults in the future.

“I need to learn more new things about my culture if I want to keep teaching.”

Sutherland says the drumming makes her feel at home as she is from Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation and spent some of her younger years on the reserve. 

“I think a lot of the kids can connect to that and the feeling of longing for culture. It also gives other students a chance to have positive relationships with their peers and a chance to be exposed to a different culture.”

Sutherland says because the students are interested in dance they’re organizing a round dance for the school in November.

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