Mount Royal students welcome New Brunswick First Nation
High school students from
a New Brunswick First Nation are getting a taste of Saskatchewan, as part of a
government-funded exchange program with Saskatoon's Mount Royal
Twenty people from New Brunswick's Eel River Bar Mi'kmaq First Nation were welcomed with a smudge ceremony at Mount Royal Collegiate today.
"I thought it was beautiful," said Eel River student Shaniah Nevin, describing her first impression of Saskatchewan's landscape.
"When I seen the whole flat land, I was like, in shock."
The Saskatoon group, made up of about 25 people, travelled to New Brunswick back in November.
"They just really did not have a knowledge base on any First Nations cultures, and so they really got to get some really cool, real, authentic exchange experience with family there," said Lana Lehr, teacher and organizer at Mount Royal Collegiate.
"It really felt powerful. We were all crying at the end of the week."
Lehr applied for the youth exchange program, partially funded by the federal government, with the intention of involving Mount Royal's immigrant student body in a cultural exchange within Canada.
"They don't get to participate in exchange programs to other countries that other Canadian students get an opportunity to do, just because of their visa requirements," said Lehr.
This is the first time the school has applied for the program. Lehr said many of the immigrant students who came from land-locked countries got to see the ocean for the first time.
"My best memory is, like, they had a beach. We don't have that in Saskatoon, it's new for us," said Mount Royal student Yassin Teba.
Shane Henderson, a Grade 12 student from Mount Royal, said he enjoyed the differences between the Cree and Mi'kmaq cultures.
"Some parts of them, they believed in spiritual--for example, maybe even Big Foot. Which, in my Cree culture, I don't think we have anything about that," said Henderson.
The group from Eel River Bar will visit Batoche, attend classes, take part in a powwow at Mount Royal, and have supper with a Saskatoon family during the week-long exchange.
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