Metis artist shares Indigenous culture through tipi lessons

Grade four students work on assembling their tipis. Talia Ricci / Global News

WINNIPEG — Joe Lanceley knows just about everything there is to know about tipis. The Metis artist grew up making tipis and now he uses small ones to teach big life lessons through his company Tipi Joe Creations.

Lanceley goes into classrooms and performs workshops sharing the structure’s historical significance and then shows kids how to make their own small tipis with a hands on lesson.

He said he tailors the subject matter according to the age group.

“Starting with younger kids, of course we might not delve into difficult subjects, but when we get into high school or university level, that’s when we bring up difficult subjects, and those things get discussed in a tipi,” Lanceley said.

On Friday a grade four class cheered as Tipi Joe made his way to the front of the classroom.

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“It’s been fun,” Janna Santos, one of the students said. “Me and my sister and my dad in the Philippines, we used to catch dragonflies, so I painted a dragonfly on mine.”

Lanceley said these lessons on residential schools, racism and findings from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are long overdue.

“Really, in the simplest of ways, what I try to do is provide something for me that wasn’t there when I was going to school in Manitoba,” Lanceley said.

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