First graders dance and learn at DC's annual Aboriginal Awareness Day

More than 300 Durham College (DC) students plus 60 first graders celebrated Aboriginal Awareness Day on Friday, January 20.

“The day says to our DC Aboriginal students that we want to celebrate you. We want to help them be proud of who they are if they aren’t already,” says Peggy Forbes, Aboriginal student advisor and coach with the DC Aboriginal Students Centre.

“All of the students were very involved. The first graders (of Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board) had a great time with us. They were dancing and laughing,” says Forbes of the annual celebration at DC.

“The elementary students also wrote on our water raindrops (display) saying why water is important to them” reflecting the theme of the day, she said. The celebration was very inclusive, as the term Aboriginal includes First Nations, Métis and Inuit, she added.

Special guests of the day-long event, which opened with a Smudge ceremony, included: Métis Nation of Ontario Senator Cecile Wagar, of the Oshawa and Durham Region Métis Council, who also performed as a member of the All Our Relations Métis Drum Circle; Darrell LaFrance, a storyteller from the Algonquin Pikwanagan First Nations; Elder Shirley Williams, who provided the opening prayer; Métis musicians and siblings Alicia and Liam Blore playing fiddle and guitar, respectively; and Elder Gerard Sagassige, who was the master of ceremonies.

Cassie-Jean Dillon, culture and activities assistant at the Aboriginal Students Centre, said, “The day was important to celebrate and educate the broader community about the Aboriginal community.”