Students at Eric Langton Elementary learned more about Aboriginal culture by participating in a series of fun, interactive activities during the school’s inaugural Traditional Aboriginal Games Day last month.
Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows School District Aboriginal Education Leadership students hosted the event, which included traditional games such as double ball, lacrosse, ring on a string, bison run, rock toss, hoop jump and Slahal.
“The new curriculum teaches First Nations, Metis and Inuit components, but learning through interactive activities really engaged the kids,” said Katrina Haintz, Aboriginal support worker at Eric Langton. “Our Leadership students taught the other students that some games taught hunting skills, teamwork, agility, strength and survival skills. Everything had a teaching, a purpose, a value or a skill. Some games were played to solve differences between different groups, tribes or even differences in a family.”
Students also learned more about the origins of certain games, like, for instance, “fox tail.” “It was played on the plains. It was called Tewa, the name of the people, and they added the tail to the ball in case it went down a gopher hole because they didn’t want to lose it,” explained Sherri Britton, Aboriginal support worker at Maple Ridge secondary. “The object of the game is you don’t touch it with your hands; you grip it with your feet and fling it over your head. It is all about core strength and agility.”
Students made all the equipment used for the eight different games with materials that came from the land. “The double ball and sling balls. They gathered and painted the sticks and rocks,” said Britton.
For Haintz, hosting the Aboriginal Games Day at the school had special significance. Last year she had a Grade 7 student whose Inquiry Project had the goal of introducing more traditional games and events for kids.
“That’s the reason why I wanted to get kids in the Ab Ed Leadership Program involved,” said Haintz. “They learn all these games and then they are sharing their teachings – which is very much the traditional way. I am so proud how the students embraced this project. They all felt very proud to share their culture.”