It’s been an incredible year for the students at Maples. The beautiful month of June is a great time to showcase what they’ve been up to.
While it can be said that interactions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada have not always been harmonious, Maples Collegiate Aboriginal Student Leadership (ASL) is striving to change contemporary relationships. As a group of young leaders, with teacher support, they are working to revitalize and re-claim their cultural heritage, and share it with their school community. The student group is a mix of students who are new to the city, having moved from various northern communities and students who have called Maples community home for most of their lives. ASL began at Maples Collegiate in 2012 with the help of teachers Amy Carpenter and Ryan Cook. Other key supports for the ASL student group have been teachers Cory Waldbauer, Bernadette Smith, and Reuben Boulette who have all been integral parts of helping students recognize their potential as role models within our Maples community.
Three weeks after the publication of the Maclean’s article, hundreds of students gathered at the Legislative Building to take a stand against racism. ASL joined forces with Maples Student Council and students from high schools around Manitoba to take part in the “Students Together Against Racism Today” (START) awareness march. Several members of ASL spoke to the crowd about their ability to fight racism together. “We’re Aboriginal students, working with all of these people and peers from different cultures to draw attention to the fact that what we all want is to just be recognized as simple human beings.” Edith Fosseneuve, grade 12 student told the crowd of people.
The ASL group officially meets once a week after-school. However, group meetings and/or events often extend to lunch hours (in a school space Indigenous students have unofficially claimed as theirs), to after-school hours at Wayfinders, and in the new Maples Commons, where a familiar face is sure to be found. Essentially, what has happened is what they describe as…family. Over and over we hear from ASL members about how they have become a family where all belong and all are welcome. ASL has not only provided them with a safe and meaningful place in the school but also a strong sense of belonging; where together with the guidance of safe and caring teachers they can explore who they are, where they come from and feel a great sense of pride.
The power of this group is felt in the school by their many contributions. For many people at Maples the groups presence and actions have helped to debunk the numerous stereotypes Indigenous young people in Winnipeg face. In addition to numerous ASL and Wayfinders events, Indigenous students at Maples have had other opportunities to shine this year.
In December, 12 lovely, brave girls took part in a four day photojournalism workshop – a partnership between the National Post, Centennial College and Maples - where they learned to tell their point of view and their personal stories through photography. The major article, Silent No More, was published in February, 2015. The girls, who were part of the project were asked to share their stories, connections and the impacts of the overwhelming high number of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women. Being able to express themselves freely was both difficult and empowering. These incredibly brave girls felt enormous pride and joy to have shared in this once in a lifetime opportunity. Click here for the full story.
The ASL also started a drum group that meets once a week to practice and learn new songs. They have been fortunate enough to drum for school events, divisional events, pow wows, and very recently, they had a chance to play for the school trustees. They take much pride in their performances.
Student Faith Whiteway gifting Brian O’Leary the superintendent with a painting she made recognizing growth as a community.
ASL also organized a visit to Roseau River First Nation. There were a number of students from Maples Collegiate to take part in the trip. Roseau River held its 13th annual Gathering of Friends. The Gathering holds workshops teaching visitors about Anishinaabe culture. The workshops include sweat lodge teachings, Anishinaabe constellations, and bannock making, among others. The day is finished off with a tutorial on the traditional pow wow dances and regalia.
This is the drum group at Maples following performances. They have given themselves the name “Teenage Bears” often translated into Ojibway or Oji-Cree.
The pow wow in Roseau River. Students were able to participate in round dances. They learned many different styles of dance and regalia at the pow wow.
The Sweat Lodge workshop at Roseau River Gathering of Friends. Students took part in learning the traditional names and practices of Anishinaabe culture.
Students meet Wab Kinew at the Vision Quest Conference. One of the many opportunities students have to attend events in the community.
Students taking part in wall climbing at the University of Manitoba. The Aboriginal Student Leadership has a close relationship with Aboriginal Student Recruitment at the UofM. The students attended the post-secondary club’s day of fun at the Fort Garry Campus.
Grade 11’s & 12’s Art Installation in the new Maples Commons for an Art Show. The installation features names, symbols and images depicting the Murdered and Missing Indigenous women in Canada.
Wayfinders students create a panel based on We Are All Treaty People which was showcased at Arts in the Park 2015.
ASL students setting up the Tipi's at the Circle Garden.