Students at the St. Kateri Tekakwitha School in northeast Calgary will soon have a playground to play and learn about Indigenous cultures.
The Indigenous-themed playground aims to bring Indigenous knowledge to children through play. It features a teepee climber, an eagle climbing wall, a dream catcher structure and a separate sharing circle showcasing the colours of the medicine wheel.
It will also have an outdoor classroom for students to learn about the Siksikaitsitapi, Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, Amskappi Pikun and the Iyarhe Stoney Nations: Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley and Métis Nation Region 3.
On Friday, the school was joined by District Elder Wanda First Rider to smudge and bless the playground. The ceremony honoured the land and the people, while also acknowledging the 94 calls to action for truth and reconciliation.
“This has been a five-year project in the making. The school did not have a playground for four years.
“We wanted to honour truth and reconciliation… It’s a sacred space which is a learning opportunity for our students,” Stacey Dyck told Global News.
Dyck is a learning commons librarian for the Calgary Catholic School Board and the St. Tekawitha School Education Society’s president, who identifies as Métis-Cree.
The playground will also be open for residents in the greater Forest Lawn and Abbeydale area, not just for St. Kateri Tekakwitha School students.
“The playground is open as a space for everyone to gather and enjoy life,” Dyck said.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha School principal Sandy Solyom said fundraising efforts from the city, school, the province and various community partners helped make the playground a reality.
“Some people said we have a playground for the school, but this is so much more than that. It’s a playground for the Abbeydale community,” Solyom said.
“It has been a journey but we’re so happy to have achieved our outcome and our goals. I’m happy to share this with the community and make this a better place for kids to come and visit.”