A tipi raising and community gathering took place at King George School on Thursday for their Kindergarten through Grade 8 students. 

The Cree-style tipi, constructed for King George’s Outdoor Classroom Project, was constructed with poles handmade by Cree Star Gifts in Swan River. It has a diameter of 24 ft, and it’s 23 ft tall. 

Prior to the canvas being wrapped, students made presentations about the use and significance of the tipi and spoke about the 13 tipi poles and hide. They also shared information about the Métis and Treaty 4 flags, and students read a land acknowledgement written specifically for King George School. 

Elder Alvin Francis of Nekaneet Cree First Nation said a prayer for the tipi raising. He’s a cultural support worker for the Saskatchewan Health Authority and was Chief of his community for six years. 

He spoke to the students about the tipi. “This is actually a home. It was somebody’s home at one time. It was very portable, because our people moved everywhere to follow the buffalo, the food, and the weather.” 

The Buffalo Boys Drum Group from Regina’s Mother Teresa Middle School performed once the tipi was wrapped.  

Evan Whitestar, teacher with the drum group, spoke about the group’s makeup. “Predominately we are First Nations, but our ways are for everybody. 

“Our old ceremonies used to tell us never turn anybody away. And if you’ll take a good look at our drum group, you’ll notice that some of our students are not First Nations. 

“Some of our students come from different countries. One of our Grade 8 girls originates from Pakistan, her family, but yet in the past three years she came here, and she took this journey with us. That’s the true spirit of Reconciliation.” 

Marquita Neufeld, former teacher at King George and a current Kokum who teaches Prairie South School Division students about Métis culture, spoke about the healing circle that is now set up on the east side of the school grounds.  

“In the circle, people internalize, verbalize and learn. This understanding then becomes a part of spirituality, which is important to maintain the balance of life.” 

She encouraged students having trouble to talk about issues they are experiencing in the circle with a teacher or friends.  

Students and guests were treated to a bannock and soup lunch courtesy of Jody Oakes and the Grade 5 classroom.