Finding common ground

Victor Thunderchild is badly out-numbered.

On one side of the gym, the local teacher is busy setting up a presentation full of slides and videos showcasing a range of Indigenous culture. A few other adults are helping him.

On the other side are dozens of kids and almost all of them are in the middle of running, jumping, laughing and shouting, or some combination of all four.

“This is going to be the very first one,” Thunderchild says during a quick interview before he starts his presentation. “It’s a ground-breaker for me and I’m actually very excited about this.”

As an elementary and high school educator, Thunderchild is no stranger to talking to youth about First Nations culture. However, this talk is different. Instead of speaking solely to kids who were born and raised in Canada, half his audience consists of children who recently arrived as immigrants with their parents.

For the next week, they’ll have the chance to do everything from Indigenous drumming to learning a few words of Cree. Thunderchild is one of several facilitators overseeing the process, and he says it’s instrumental in creating a strong community.

“It’s really important that they learn where First Nations people come from, their historical background (and) why things are the way they are,” he says.

Thunderchild didn’t fully realize how important the issue was until last fall, when he started teaching the children of a few newly landed immigrants.

Many of those students didn’t understand the treaty system or the relationship between Indigenous people and the government.

For the rest of this story, please see the Aug. 2 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.