Rivière Qui Barre - A Camilla School student has won a provincial award for her efforts to celebrate Métis culture at her school.
Grade 8 Camilla School student Allie Parry was one of 12 recipients of the Honouring Spirit: Indigenous Student Awards announced June 21 (which was National Indigenous Peoples Day). The award, administered by the Alberta School Boards Association, recognizes First Nations, Métis and Inuit students who show exemplary leadership, courage, and commitment to their cultures and education.
Instead of the usual award ceremony at Government House, the association held an online celebration where 3D avatars based on the recipients walked across a virtual stage to receive their certificates.
Parry was always helping out in Social Studies with facts about Indigenous culture and has given talks to other teachers and schools, said teacher Amy Soetaert, who nominated her for the award. Last year, Parry's “The Little Métis Travelling Across the Prairie” graphic novel was a finalist in the national Kayak Kids’ Illustrated History Challenge.
Parry, who lives near Calahoo, said her family comes from a Cree and Iroquois background via her great-grandmother and has always been proud of its Métis heritage. She realized about three years ago thatshe qualified for Métis citizenship (she had thought she was too many generations removed from her Indigenous ancestors) and applied for her citizenship card. She then dove head-first into her culture, working with Métis elders, learning Michif, and competing in jigging contests.
“I’m a very curious person, and I like to know things as much as I can,” Parry said of her interest in Métis culture.
Parry said she started a Métis Culture Club at Camilla because there weren't any Indigenous-focused clubs at the school (which has many Métis students). The club had up to 50 members pre-pandemic, and would often see youths learn words in Michif or bead paper cutouts of moccasins.
“I just want everyone to earn about everything,” Parry said of the club.
“It’s so much more fun when you get to learn about different people and their heritage.”
Parry said the award came with a certificate, a star blanket (an item of significance in Indigenous culture which, when wrapped around a person, demonstrates how they have been embraced by the community), and $300.
Parry said she hope to either revive the Métis Club at Camilla this fall or start a similar group at a different school. Her message to other students was to “just be proud of who you are,” and to remember that true friends love you for who you are, not how you look.
Visit www.asba.ab.ca for a list of this year’s Honouring Spirit winners.
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