Over 200 students from the Kenora Catholic District School Board were able to take part in the 11th annual Fall Harvest yesterday, held in Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation.

The day started with an offering of tobacco in the roundhouse, drumming and a welcome prayer with Elder Terry Skead. After the opening, students were able to explore various stations and learn about the customs of gathering and preparing food, including fish, deer and geese, and how to roast bannock over an open fire.

Macy Foster, a Grade 5 student from St. Louis School, attended the Fall Harvest last year and knew what to expect. She was the first in line at the wild rice making station.

“My favourite part of the Fall Harvest, and what stands out in my mind, is dancing on the wild rice.”

It was Unique Paypom’s third trip to Pow Wow Island. She’s now in Grade 7 at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, but started attending as part of the KCDSB’s Northern Studies program when she was in Grade 4 at St. Louis School.

“Going to the Fall Harvest is a special experience because I get to learn about the cultural teachings. My favourite part is the bannock making. I also like seeing the deer and plucking the ducks.”

Community members had ten different stations set up for students, including a new station on how to build a wigwam, which is a small shelter used for hunting.

“The Wauzhushk Onigum Fall Harvest is an important event at Kenora Catholic because it helps children learn about the culture that is all around us in northwestern Ontario,” said Phyllis Eikre, Direction of Education for the KCDSB.

“This is our 11th year being invited to attend, and we are thankful for the opportunity to partner with Wauzhushk Ongium to provide this opportunity to students. The community members show us amazing hospitality and give so freely of their time as they pass on important teachings to our students. I enjoy watching the students learn something new each time as they visit the Fall Harvest. It’s a very special opportunity.”

As part of the KCDSB’s Northern Studies program, students in Grades 4 and 5 get to explore the traditions and activities of First Nation, Metis and Inuit people in the region, with hands-on learning opportunities.

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