All Nations stresses community at welcome back ceremony

Photo Credit: Sophie Downey

Students wave the smoke of burning sage over themselves as Secola moved around the circle. This process, smudging, is a traditional part of ceremonies.

Sophie Downey, A&E Editor

 “This morning, I’d like to talk about how we all belong together,” said Joe Kingbird coordinator of the All Nations program on Friday, September 14th,during the annual All Nations Welcome Back Ceremony.

Kingbird, along with principal Cecelia Saddler, counselor Jackie Mosconi, assistant principal Stephen Simondet, and Cheryl Secola stressed the idea of family and connection during the event, which took place on Barnard Field during second hour. Kingbird led an Anishinaabe prayer while Secola traveled around the circle of students to do a smudging, traditional process using the smoke of burning sage, used normally at the beginnings of ceremonies and events, which Kingbird described as “a good way to start the morning”.

Saddler addressed the students and teachers: “I’d like you to look to your left and your right. These are your sisters and brothers. They are your family and you should treat them as such.”

Kingbird acknowledged each class of students by inviting them to step into the circle, congratulating them with their progress, and with “Migwetch”, ‘thank you’ in Anishinaabemowin.  Mosconi and Simodet both expressed their gratitude to administrators and teachers, and their excitement to participate in the All Nations Program.

Reclaiming the microphone, Kingbird talked about the sense of community that South strives to provide for students.

“Young people join gangs because they feel like they have nowhere to belong,” he said. “You don’t have to join a gang to have a family. You have a family here.”

Once the smudging was done, Kingbird invited everyone to shake hands around the circle, starting with Ms. Saddler.

“This is our way to formally recognize all of the returning students, and the new students,” he said afterwards, saying the goal was “to create a sense of community.”

Kingbird made sure that every student and teacher had the opportunity to shake everyone’s hand. “I can feel the energy!” he said. “This is our way of acknowledging each other.”

As the students filed off the field and back to class, Kingbird ended the ceremony with a final “Migwetch.”