FMPSD’S Indigenous Students Give Back to the Community
The soup kitchen is quiet for now. Ècole Mctavish High School’s Indigenous students are busy with lunch preparations for deserving patrons, many homeless. Lunch hour is getting closer as they work diligently and efficiently putting last touches on the cup cakes.
Gabriel Starr, grade 10 student was one of the students helping with dessert. He was busy helping set-up tables as well.
“When I heard of this group at school, I wanted to join immediately. It brings out a better person in me, and makes me smile, knowing I’m helping people, and doing God’s work. It makes me feel better just knowing that I can help people,” said Gabriel, who has a Secwe̓pemc background - First Nations group from British Columbia.
Persaeus Buick-umperville, grade seven student was visiting the soup kitchen for the first time. She helped with the dishes.
“We can’t take anything for granted. This helps me see things differently,” said Buick, 12, who has a Cree background.
Tammy Cadegan, Vice Principal, Ècole Mctavish High School, oversees the Indigenous volunteer group. Cadegan explains the many reasons for doing this.
“It is the vision of Ècole Mctavish to be a school that gives back to the city of Fort Mcmurray and surrounding areas through volunteer work. As a strong academic school we pride ourselves on our students’ achievements and seek to support those who are in need. Our 88 Indigenous students thought it was time to make a positive difference in our community. Students began volunteering anywhere that needed an extra set of hands, once every two weeks,” she explained.
“It truly has a positive impact on the patrons of Fort Mcmurray, the students and other volunteers. It’s a real eye opener for our students to see that some of the people in the community, who need assistance are often people they know, or people they recognize. It teaches them a lot about acceptance and compassion. I always leave with a full heart, and so do the students. They take these teachings and stories back to our school and ignite a passion in other students to follow their lead. Nothing has been more heartwarming in my teaching career, than to listen to these students reflections after a day of volunteer work. They are remarkable,” added Cadegan, who landed Access Taxi as a partner. The company drives the students to their volunteering destinations free of charge and was recently recognized the Small Business Partner of the Year by the District.
Indeed, these volunteers have inspired other students to join them. They have already visited the Wood Buffalo Food Bank Association, and the Golden Years Society with other local groups on the agenda.
Scott Barr, Mctavish Principal, is “proud to have them representing the Marauder family in their volunteer work and aiding those that may need a helping hand.”
For Angela Woods, FMPSD’S Indigenous Coordinator, volunteering gives students “multiple chances for learning and sharing.”
“From the Indigenous student perspective, firstly, it brings opportunity for them to learn from their experiences. It allows them to engage in the real world and view things from a different lens than what they are used to as a student. Volunteering helps build character, strong virtues and shows them the diversity of the needs of our community. It’s complete enrichment for their life and social development.”
“Secondly, by getting out to experience opportunities in the community like the Soup Kitchen, it allows the Indigenous students to share their stories, culture, traditions and history with the people they are working with in order to help preserve the Indigenous cultures. It allows our students to have the opportunity to have a voice and lend perspective. This makes me feel extremely proud of our FMPSD Indigenous students - the fact that they have taken on such strong leadership roles in our community to give a helping hand to those in need.”
Proud to cultivate Indigenous leaders of tomorrow, who are helping today. Our thanks to these extraordinary students, and staff, who believe in Doing What’s Best for Everyone!
For more information on any of our 16 schools, visit: www.fmpsdschools.ca. For real time updates: follow us on Twitter: @FMPSD @ Dougnicholls2 and like us on Facebook: Fort Mcmurray Public School District. We are also on Instagram @ FMPSD.
Gabriel helped set-up the lunch and with dessert.
Persaeus was delighted to volunteer.