A teepee set up inside the foyer of St. Francis of Assisi Middle School will help teach students about the sacredness of the teepee for Indigenous people.
Erected on the weekend by the local social justice group Red Feather Women and female school staff, the Red Feather Women’s teepee will remain at the school for a week.
The teepee’s skirt is made up of 300 squares that share thoughts and symbols about reconciliation, resistance, missing and murdered Indigenous women, encouragement, hope, intention and Canada’s future.
Diane Gardipy, Indigenous knowledge keeper with Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, will be at the school to lead the discussion with students.
“(Gardipy) is a Red Feather Woman so she is able to speak on why they put the teepee together and the symbolism of each of the squares that holds the teepee together,” said Selena Frizzley, Indigenous education co-ordinator with the school jurisdiction.
She said it’s the second time the teepee has come to St. Francis and it’s a suitable time of year for its return. It can be used for reflection and remembering others during the holiday season.
“It’s been a really beautiful last couple of days.”
She said more than 700 students with Red Deer Catholic self-identify as Indigenous, and cultural advice is sought from Indigenous knowledge keepers and elders.
“Everything we’re doing, we’re trying to move forward in a good way and the best way to support our students as well as our families,” Frizzley said.
Teepees are set up elsewhere in Red Deer at St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School and St. Patrick’s Community School.
A teepee is also being constructed for Ecole Camille J. Lerouge School. Students have been involved in the project by preparing the teepee’s poles by peeling off the bark.
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IndigenousRed Deer Catholic Regional School Division