National Indigenous Peoples Day

About National Indigenous Peoples Day

In cooperation with Indigenous organizations, the Government of Canada proclaimed June 21 of each year as National Aboriginal Day, now known as National Indigenous Peoples Day. This date was chosen because it corresponds to the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and because for generations, many Indigenous Peoples’ groups have celebrated their culture and heritage at this time of year.

National Indigenous Peoples Day is a wonderful opportunity to become better acquainted with the cultural diversity of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, discover the unique accomplishments and celebrate their outstanding contribution to Canadian society. This is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and significant accomplishments.

Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day

Each year, Wolf Creek Public Schools recognizes and participates in Orange Shirt day across the District to honor those who attended residential schools and experienced various forms of bullying and racism. This is an opportunity for schools to talk about anti-racism and anti-bullying with students across the District.

Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in the spring of 2013. It grew out of Phyllis' story of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at the Mission, and it has become an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools happening annually.

The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. It also gives teachers time to plan events that will include children as we want to ensure that we are passing the story and learning on to the next generations.

Orange Shirt Day is also an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come. (Orange Shirt Day: every child matters. (2017). Orange Shirt Day: every child matters. Retrieved 16 October 2017, from http://www.orangeshirtday.org)

Nitohtahwin Gathering

Nitohtahwin is a Cree word meaning “listen to me”

“ka-kí-kiskéyihtétan óma, namoya kinwés maka aciyowés pohko óma óta ka-hayayak wasétam askihk, ékwa ka-kakwéy miskétan kiskéyihtamowin, iyinísiwin, kistéyitowin, mina nánisitotatowin kakiya ayisiniwak, ékosi óma kakiya ka-wahkotowak”

Cree Proverb

Realize that we as human beings have been put on this earth for only a short time and that we must use this time to gain wisdom, knowledge, respect and the understanding for all human beings since we are all relatives.


Nitohtahwin Gathering History in WCPS

The purpose of the Nitohtahwin gathering in Wolf Creek Public Schools is to provide our First Nation, Métis and Inuit students an opportunity to reflect on their own learning and provide input into how we can better support their needs.  

The gathering will occur every two years with each school organizing their events to ensure it is consistent with the needs of the students in each school.


Ponoka Outreach School

Students, staff, elders, and family members gathered at Ponoka Outreach School to participate in a Nitohtahwin Gathering and a traditional Cree feast on Wednesday, October 4th.  

This event focused specifically on creating an uplifting experience for students while attempting to determine their greatest needs as students. Ponoka Outreach School staff are highly committed to serving their students in the best way possible; open and honest communication as well as mutual respect have proven to be essential to the tremendous success enjoyed by Ponoka Outreach School.

Nitohtahwin means “listen to me” – and this event was an opportunity for Outreach students to express their opinions on how programs are delivered at the Outreach school. The morning of excellent group discussions proved to be very helpful to students and staff. The students’ input will have a very real impact as teachers continue to plan and adjust programs this school year at Ponoka Outreach.

Honouring Cree culture is a very important aspect of Reconciliation at Ponoka Outreach. As a result, the morning sessions for students were organized around the traditional Cree medicine wheel. Students circulated through four different sessions, each of which followed the theme represented by the colours of the medicine wheel: red – spiritual, yellow – physical, white – mind, and blue – emotional. In each session, students participated in activities that involved honest discussions of issues that are concerning to students. Students also related their personal experiences as learners at the Outreach School with the emphasis on finding ways to improve instruction for all students.

Following the discussions and activities, the students, staff and elders were joined by family members and many other guests to enjoy a traditional Cree feast.

Ponoka Secondary Campus

First Nation tradition and culture was celebrated at Ponoka Secondary. Students experienced "the what and the why" of first nations culture, by rotating through five cultural activities. The activities included: hoop dancing, a talking circle on residential schools, cooking bannock, learning about smudging, and learning about the seven sacred teachings. At the end of the day students and staff were treated to a hoop dancers, traditional dancers, and a round dance.


Each of the three schools in Ponoka designed activities to gather thoughts and reflections in regards to learning for our First Nation, Métis and Inuit students.

The day at Ponoka Secondary Campus started with a presentation on the “Red Dress Project” focuses on the issues of murdered and missing Aboriginal women across Canada. The remainder of the day provided a number of opportunities for First Nation, Métis and Inuit students to express their ideas in a number of formats including a talking circle talk with Elder Joseph Deschamps.  


The first ever Nitohtahwin Gathering was held on Friday, June 19, 2015 on the eve of National Aboriginal Day.

The gathering took place at the old Ponoka Elementary School followed by a traditional feast. The Nitohtahwin gathering was for Grades 7-12 First Nations and Métis students.

Grade 6 First Nations and Métis students from Ponoka Elementary School joined the feast as well.

All students from Ponoka Elementary School, Ponoka Secondary Campus and Ponoka Outreach School were invited to attend an Aboriginal Day Celebration at the PES school grounds. This celebration included dancing, Tipi teachings and hand games.


About Dark Spark

Darkspark, founded in 2011 by Melissa Larkin and D'Ari Lisle, is an arts organization supported by ordinary people who believe small actions can make a big difference in the world. The founders took a small step. Now Darkspark is a growing community of multicultural change makers who intend to make a meaningful difference - bridging cultural division by investing in experiential opportunities for youth, based on music and pop culture.

Darkspark collaborates with youth to create and release pop songs to help reduce prejudice and promote cross-cultural understanding. Darkspark envisions an inclusive society that respects and celebrates diversity, in which engaged youth understand the power of their voices and use them for social change.

To learn more about Melissa, D'Ari and the Darkspark team CLICK HERE.


Four Directions Project
Click image to view the recap video that highlights the Ponoka program.

At Ponoka Secondary Campus, an exciting learning program for grade 7 students called ‘Darkspark’ took place from October 15-19, 2018. Over the week students created powerful art by assisting them in conceptualizing, writing and recording pop songs about how colonial history affects them, their families and communities. The instructors on this team sensitively and skillfully facilitated students creating songs for change and healing that teach, reclaim and reconcile colonial history, which is still very much a part of Canada's present. 

Four Directions Recap #4: Ponoka, AB!

Excerpt from the Darkspark team:

The fourth stop on our cross-country adventure with the #TheFourDirectionsProject was rural Ponoka, Alberta.

Surrounded by prairie fields and huge sky, Ponoka has a unique history that unraveled itself over the course of our week there. Ponoka is surrounded by First Nations territories, and while there, we learned that Ponoka itself used to be a reservation. We were blessed to collaborate with an incredible team of Elders, local Indigenous historians, and educators who taught us so much about this place, the land and the history we walked on while there.

This was a special week filled with a lot of fantastic learning and growth for students and staff alike. We worked with a group of 25 youth - both Indigenous and non, at a superstar school Ponoka Secondary Campus with Wolf Creek Public Schools.

Thank you to our amazing staff for your tireless effort - Tristan Bent for your workshop & storytelling skills, Memorecks for your jokes, beats & production love, and the man behind the lens of this video Zach Patton

Thanks to National Arts Centre / Centre national des Arts - Music Alive Program for their support of the Ponoka program.

Thanks also to our music sponsors: Slate Companies | MOTU | LANDR | Behringer | Valhalla DSP | U-HE | NATIVE INSTRUMENTS

For more information about #TheFourDirectionsProject please visit: www.darkspark.ca/fourdirections



The Songs

"We Gotta Learn" - Song 1

This group spent a lot of time thinking about the ways that history can repeat itself if you’re not careful. They had a lot of amazing conversations about judging others and how damaging that can be without knowing someone's story before you think you know what they’ve gone through.

In their own words: "Our song is called We Gotta Learn. Our group name is called the Gems. We wrote a song about not judging people and taking responsibility for our actions. This experience was very fun and meaningful. We hope you enjoy our song!”

Thanks to this group for their hard work and bravery in creating this song.


"Allies" - Song 2

This group from Ponoka, AB was comprised of students that live on or nearby neighbouring reservation Maskwacis, and students born and raised in Ponoka. There were so many different perspectives and stories amongst them, it was hard to make sure everyone's voice was represented. They decided to combine experiences in their lyrics and create a call to action in their chorus. They also referenced the Sharphead people, who they learned was a band of First Nations people, who were almost wiped out entirely to make way for the land to be settled by the Canadian Government.

In their own words: "We're called 6 Bucks and this is our song called Allies. We wrote it to educate people about reconciliation because people don't know enough about it. Hope you enjoy our song!”

Thanks to this group for their engagement in creating this!


"1604" - Song 3

These boys were inspired by dreaming up a vision for the future that was far more inclusive and informed than the present we live in.

In their own words: "Our group name is called All Kinds and our group song title is called 1604. Our song was about how everyone is different and everyone needs to try to understand where each of us has come from and try to accept each other. The week was very joyful. My favourite part was writing the song. Hope you enjoy the video!”


"When They Came" - Song 4

This group did such a fantastic job of working together and starting over and over again to make sure their song was the best it could be. They decided to write about settlers arriving in Canada from a variety of perspectives, but ultimately created a powerful anthem for ensuring our present is powerful in order to build a better future.

In their own words: "Our group name is Flying Colours and our song name is When They Came. The song is about when the Europeans first came to Canada and didn't understand the way the First Nations lived. What would have happened if people they had tried to understand?? We hope you enjoy our song!”


Thanks to Ponoka Secondary Campus of Wolf Creek Public Schools for your participation in #TheFourDirectionsProject

Thank you to our amazing staff: Tristan BentMemorecks, and Zach Patton.

Thanks to National Arts Centre / Centre national des Arts - Music Alive Program for their support of the Ponoka program.

Thanks also to our music sponsors: Slate Companies | MOTU | LANDR | 
Behringer | Valhalla DSP | U-HE | NATIVE INSTRUMENTS

For more information about #TheFourDirectionsProject please visit: www.darkspark.ca/fourdirections