Music a means to identity

Jared Monkman/NNSL photo Bridgette McKay plays the fiddle at a performance at Chief Sunrise School on Friday afternoon.  Bridgette McKay plays the fiddle at a performance at Chief Sunrise School on Friday afternoon.  Behind her are Raymond Norn and Myles King-Villebrun.

Jared Monkman/NNSL photo
Bridgette McKay plays the fiddle at a performance at Chief Sunrise School on Friday afternoon.
Bridgette McKay plays the fiddle at a performance at Chief Sunrise School on Friday afternoon.
Behind her are Raymond Norn and Myles King-Villebrun.

The culmination of a year of work and practice touched down in Hay River last week when Fort Resolution students visited schools to show off their fiddling and jigging skills.

“The biggest thing about this is that they love dancing,” said Laura Boucher, the students’ teacher. “It’s a tradition. We’ve always had square dancing and jigging. It’s part of our past.”

A year ago, Boucher set a goal for her class: that they would learn the music and dancing of their culture. With help from various groups, and a lot of effort on the part of the school and the students themselves, last week they hit the road to visit Harry Camsell School and Chief Sunrise Education Centre to perform.

There were jiggers, fiddlers and drummers of varying ages, accompanied by a few instructors. Boucher herself was an avid dancer and was more than pleased to have passed it on.

“I wanted to bring it back,” she said.

Deninu School principal Kate Powell said the project was a popular but required a lot of hard work and dedication. They brought in dance troupe Sagkeeng’s Finest of Sagkeeng First Nation, Man. which made headlines in 2012 for winning Canada’s Got Talent — and the Metis group, Asham Stompers, to serve as their inspiration and went from there.

“The Kole Crook Fiddle Association was so much a part of this,” she told The Hub. “The school paid for an extra session with them to give us that extra bit of practice.”

Students at Chief Sunrise were more than impressed by the performance, gathering in the gym Friday afternoon to see the show.

“All I heard were comments like, ‘They’re so good, we want to dance like that!’” said principal Christina Steen. “I think it’s fantastic for the kids to see their own culture like that, and to see other kids doing fun things with it.”

While there are no current plans to implement a similar program at the school, Steen did say she noticed the interest the students had in fiddling and jigging.

–Sarah Ladik