St. Brigid Gichigiiwedin Biboon Games
Despite unseasonable and tempestuous weather, the Gichigiiwedin Biboon Games were held on Tuesday 7 March 2017. Joining the Bison at this year’s games were students and staff from St. Brigid’s coterminous schools: Nakina Public School and Notre-Dame-des-Écoles. Pouring rain and driving wind led to the cancellation of outdoor sports -- including animidaabii (tobogganing), gooniikaa-ginebig (snow snake) and babaamaagime (snowshoeing) -- and to a hastily rearranged schedule.
The games began with the opening ceremonies: representatives of each of the three schools proudly marching into the gym behind flags representing Canada and aboriginal nations and bearing school banners. After the recognition of the traditional territory of the Treaty 9 Aanishinaabeg, students and staff sang the Ojibwe lyrics of “O Canada” before being regaled by St. Brigid School’s renowned hoop dancers and joining in hand drumming and the singing of a traditional welcoming song. From there, groups of students rotated through Inuit and Dene games including the muskox push, back push, knee jump, leg wrestling, stick pull and the ever-popular one-foot high kick.
At lunch, students and staff joined community members for a feast at the Nakina complex, enjoying traditional foods including manoomin (wild rice), mooznaaboo (moose soup) and bakwezhigan (bannock) and an assortment of other foods and treats. After the feast, the groups returned to the school where they alternately tried their hands at soap ozhikozh (carving) and biindaagibagizowin (hoop dancing). During the closing ceremonies, students and staff from all three schools joined together for a mass hoop dance and to sing a parting song: “Giigawabamin Miinawa.”
Nakina Public School and Notre-Dame-des-Écoles were very happy to join in this year’s games, saying “The activities were so unique and it was so interesting to learn some neat Inuit games and traditional Aboriginal activities like… carving...” and “A BIG THANK YOU to all of the staff at St. Brigid School for all the time and energy put into the planning and success of the games.” Favourite activities included the one-foot high kick (because, wrote a NPS student, it is “like soccer and karate”) and the mass hoop dance during the closing ceremonies.
This is the third year that St. Brigid School has hosted the annual games and the first that students from other boards have participated. As always, the St. Brigid Bison are eager and excited to share their talents, their knowledge and their culture.