C.P. Blakely Elementary School in Sylvan Lake honoured  Indigenous culture with the 17th annual Indigenous Celebration Day. 

The school’s celebration was last week, and the impact continues to be felt by staff and students.   

“We are grateful to learn from Indigenous Knowledge Keepers and Elders. We are celebrating today what we’ve learned and the knowledge we have gained on this journey, and continue to build on that,” said Jen Pfaff, a C.P. Blakely teacher and the school’s Indigenous lead teacher.  

During the day, students listened to Indigenous culture and heritage stories from Elder John Sinclair, and played Indigenous games with Dashayne Morin, while Patrick Mitsuing, an Indigenous helper, dancer, and drummer, taught students about the Cree language.  

Clare Butterfly, a Cree knowledge keeper and dancer also sat with students around the school’s tipi and shared tipi teachings.  

“I love giving people that don’t know about Indigenous history, traditions, and culture, a glimpse into it. That’s truth and reconciliation for me,” said Butterfly. “Tipi teachings are really life teachings, and about strengthening connections between people.”  

Butterfly is a former C.P. Blakely student, and expressed how special the day was.   

“When I was here there wasn’t this celebration or a tipi - but now there is. It has become a part of the school culture and that’s exciting,” he said.   

The celebration finished with students enjoying performances from Indigenous dancers and drummers.  

“Our learning and culture goes beyond a single day. It’s about infusing what we are learning on this day throughout the year,” said Anne Frey, Principal of C.P. Blakely School. “Thank you to everyone who contributed to our day. We are grateful for the knowledge, wisdom, and insights that were shared, and that increased our understanding.”