“Have the elders eaten yet? Have the elders eaten yet?”
That was the question Trafalgar Middle School students were asking each other as they lined up for lunch on Monday. During the aboriginal education conference that day they’d been taught to ensure that their elders eat first, as a sign of respect.
And they were eager to eat.
The meal, prepared by Alligator Pie Catering along with the support of SD8 kids, saw 160 students line up to make beef tacos using bannock — hundreds of pieces had been fresh-made that morning by elder Deborah Nelson and her friends.
But before everyone could dig in, students from Erickson Elementary volunteered to deliver meals to the elders who had taken the time to teach them, including Donna Wright. The lucky youngsters then got to skip to the front of the line.
“It’s amazing to see how elders are celebrated, and included, in this culture. They’re not set off to the side or forgotten, they’re always honoured,” remarked vice principal Jeff Yasinchuk while the students loaded their plates.
“I think it’s a really powerful lesson.”
Aboriginal education teacher Janet Zarchukoff, who had traveled from Creston with her Grade 6 class, praised the students for their respect while chowing down with them sitting in the grass. The kids had recently been at the hugely successful annual Pow Wow, where unfortunately this year some regalia was damaged, and she was glad they were now getting another chance to break bread and celebrate First Nations culture.
“I can’t think of a better way to bring us all together,” she said.