St. Elizabeth Catholic School in Wallaceburg celebrated the summer solstice on Monday, June 24 in partnership with Indigenous community members from Bkejwanong Territory (Walpole Island First Nation), Aamjiwnaang First Nation, and Eelunaapeewi Lahkeewiit (Delaware Nation at Moraviantown). The school hosted a pow wow to celebrate its partnership with local First Nations communities all throughout the school year and to honor National Indigenous Peoples Day.
It was a very special event for many students. Holy Family Grade 5 student, Ma'Koonse Aquash, Bkejwanong Territory was mentored by Master of Ceremonies White Lightning Clark from Aamjiwnaang First Nation. Ma'Koonse was male head dancer for the pow wow. To support Ma'Koonse, two classes from Holy Family Catholic School joined in the celebration.
Jaden Soney, a student from Ursuline College Chatham Catholic Secondary School was female head dancer. She is also a member of UCC's Indigenous Student Leadership Group, Kidwin Zhingwaak. Other members of Kidwin Zhingwaak also joined in to support Jaden as a head female dancer.
Grade 7 girls from Bkejwanong Kinomaagewgamig, the Walpole Island Elementary School, had their debut performance in the pow wow. They worked throughout the year with Leigh Ann Isaac and Charmaine Day from Bkejwanong Territory on creating their regalia. Their class also joined to show their support for the day.
It was a great day for youth. The Little Bears Youth Drum Group from Eelünaapeewi Lahkeewiit drummed under the support of host drum Iron Woodlands Drum Group, while the day care from the Delaware Nation also joined to show support for the Awehleew Shognosh, the pow wow's youngest Lenape dancer at almost two years old.
The St. Elizabeth Pow Wow truly brought together many communities and opportunities for students and young people to learn through hands-on experiences. Special thanks for the tremendous guidance of Head Veteran Judy Peters, Veterans Greg Isaac and Edwin Taylor, and Knowledge Keepers Cedric Isaac and Reta Sands, all from Bkejwanong Territory.