Students learn Métis culture

by EVAN MATTHEWS 

Bev Lambert teaches traditional Metis dance to some students. / CHERI DEHNKE
The Valemount Elementary School put on a celebration of Métis culture last week, which drew a crowd.

Students at Valemount Elementary performed traditional Métis dances and songs for the public on Apr. 7 to celebrate what they have learned over the year, says Cheri Dehnke, Aboriginal Education Worker at the school.

Dehnke says Métis teacher and performer Bev Lambert has visited the school and taught the kids about different aspects of the Metis culture.

“She comes in and she teaches self-esteem and works with a class. She teaches them some culture and helps them overcome their fears,” says Dehnke.

Students dressed in regalia and performed for parents. / CHERI DEHNKE

There were few really shy students at the beginning of the week, she says.

“They wouldn’t get up and perform. They wouldn’t even talk. By the end of the week she had them up there in regalia and dancing around,” says Dehnke, who was excited to see the progress.

There is an Aboriginal Education Worker at every school in the district, and Dehnke says it’s not just about teaching the Aboriginal students, but exposing the culture to all students.

“Any teaching or a performance we do is always inclusive” she says. “All of the school is involved.”

Dances included the Red River Jig and Lambert also taught square dancing. There were also Métis Belt Dancers, Broom Dancers, Red River Puppets and Jiggers in attendance.