On Tuesday, September 17, all nine members of the Louis Riel School Board were able to see stars from their board room chairs.
On behalf of Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) learners and the Indigenous Education Team, each trustee was gifted a star blanket created by Gloria Greatwalker, an Elder from Long Plain First Nation, an Ojibwe reserve located in the Central Plains region of Manitoba.
"We are gifting star blankets to each board member as an appreciation and acknowledgement of their ongoing commitment to Indigenous student success, an understanding of Indigenous culture and knowledge perspectives and our shared responsibility in reconciliation," said Corey Kapilik, one of the Indigenous Education Team members who helped hand out the blankets. "The blankets also show appreciation for the boards' commitment to the new LRSD Multi-Year Strategic Plan and their collective work moving forward."
From the Ojibwe Nation, the star blanket represents the agreements that Sky Woman made with Grandmother Spider in order to come down and live upon the earth. In Ojibwe teachings, the star blanket is seven pointed and carries the seven original clans and the seven grandmother/grandfather teachings. The gift of star blankets represents caring for the person receiving the blanket and a thank you for the work that person is doing and has done.
It took Greatwalker, a retired teacher who taught Ojibwe language and culture on reserves for more than 20 years, nearly eight weeks to complete. She used a sewing machine and then hand quilted the layers together.
"Being presented with a star blanket is definitely one of the most moving experiences I've had as a trustee," said Sandy Nemeth, Louis Riel School Board Chair. "It is a tangible reminder and acknowledgement of the priority and value we as a board have placed on nurturing a sense of community throughout LRSD informed and guided by the Circle of Courage."