Teachers from Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) have created a new way to celebrate shared identity, diversity and the lands of Treaty 6.
Around 15 music teachers from EIPS came together to create a song called A Place Like This. The purpose was to unite students with a common song and message, as well as celebrate different cultures within one community.
"Really we just wanted to highlight how special our community is, how special our groups of students are and to be able to celebrate the land on which we stand, because no where in the world has a place like this," said Westboro Elementary music teacher, Courtney Richard as to the origins of the name.
The project first began from comments made by the district elder, Elder Wilson Bearhead, who mentioned it would be wonderful to have a common song that schools could sing together no matter where they were from.
Bearhead helped the teachers write the lyrics and they created a song that is a mix of English and Bearhead's native language, Nakota.
"It's still in its beginning stages so I anticipate that there's going to be a lot more schools working on it this year as well, especially as we gear up to National Indigenous Peoples Day."
Since the song's first creation, other area music teachers have written a band arrangement for the song, allowing it to grow and move past a simple song for elementary students. Schools outside of the district have also looked into using the song in their own community. A Place Like This is free for schools to use and comes with an accompanying lesson plan that talks about the melody's origins.
"It's exciting to see how it's progressing and where it's going to," added Richard. "No matter where you come from, we can all take a part in reconciliation."
National Indigenous Peoples Day is on June 21.