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Pow-wow reaches out to first nations high school students

Don’t be surprised if you hear Inuit throat singers on your way to class tomorrow.

The First Peoples’ House (FPH) began holding annual pow-wows in 2002 to address the McGill community’s lack of attention to First Peoples’ culture.

“We are able to celebrate our culture and share it with the McGill population,” said Lynn Fletcher, secretary of the FPH. “We take great pride that it’s successful every year.”

Since McGill’s first FPH pow-wow on McGill’s lower field seven years ago, the event has expanded in scope by adding a series of workshops for Grade 11 students from the Kahnawake, Kanesatake, and Akwesasne reservations around Montreal.

“The pow-wow shows [First Nations high school students] that we include them and that we have a culture here at McGill,” Fletcher said.

Seven McGill faculties will be participating in the workshops, which are designed to present opportunities available to First Peoples’ students at McGill.

Courtney Montour, acting-coordinator of the FPH, said the event helped broaden students’ horizons.

“The idea is to open their minds to what possible opportunities are open to them,” said Montour.

In August, the McGill administration helped the FPH introduce a new position that would organize outreach initiatives to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students across the country, including Nunavut. Also acting as a career placement advisor, the new member of the FPH would assist First Nations students in finding jobs.

The FPH could not identify what else the administration is doing to help the First Nations’ community at McGill.

The pow-wow will feature Cree storytelling for the first time this year, in a session with Elma Moses, a PhD student in the Faculty of Education.

The FPH provides social and academic support for students who seek out their services, including study groups and twice-weekly lunches of soup and bannock, a traditional native bread.

According to Montour, the FPH sees an increase in student involvement each year following the pow-wow.

However, Fletcher said the FPH is unsure how many first peoples’ students are at McGill because not all are involved with the house.

“Over the past couple of years, we have seen a larger group coming into the office,” said Fletcher. “But it’s hard to measure the enrolment, because First Nations students have to self-identify on the application, and that’s their choice.”

However, the FPH does not exclusively cater to the first peoples’ community at McGill.

“We invite any student or member of the McGill community to come to the office,” said Montour.

– with files from Shannon Kiely


First Peoples’ House Seventh Annual Pow-wow
Sep. 19, 2008, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Lower field, centre of campus just inside of the Roddick Gates

a.m.: Introduction & Grand Entry
10 a.m. & 2 p.m.: Iroquois & Pow-wow singing and dancing
11:30 a.m. & 1:45 p.m.: Inuit Throat Singers
12 p.m.: Lacrosse Demonstration
12:30 p.m.: Inuit Spoken Word Performance by Taqralik Partridge
1 p.m.: Cree Storytelling with Elma Moses
3 p.m.: Alumni Honouring Ceremony

For more information, call (514) 398-3217, go to, or visit FPH at 3505 Peel.