FMPSD’S Indige­nous Stu­dents Give Back to the Com­mu­nity

Fort McMurray Today - - SCHOOL COLUMN - KI­RAN MA­LIK-KHAN Fort Mcmur­ray Pub­lic School District

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.

SUP­PLIED IM­AGE/FMPSD

Gabriel helped set-up the lunch and with dessert.

SUP­PLIED IM­AGE/FMPSD

Per­saeus was de­lighted to vol­un­teer.

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