Hordeski briefs school board on Ogitchita program
Guidance councillor Blair Hordeski spoke with the Portage School Division board of trustees, Thursday, about the Ogitchita program for Aboriginal youths which runs out of La Verendrye School. (ROBIN DUDGEON/THE DAILY GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)
The Portage la Prairie School Division got a chance to hear from Blair Hordeski at Thursday’s meeting, where he spoke about the Ogitchita program at La Verendrye School.
The Ogitchita program was started by guidiance councillor Blair Hordeski in 2010 to bring together young Aboriginal males. Ogitchita is Cree for “warrior with heart”.
“It’s a group of students in grade seven and eight from La Verendrye School and what we do is we celebrate Aboriginal culture,” said Hordeski. “We celebrate, share, enjoy, and learn Aboriginal culture.”
The program is going into its third year at the school, which Hordeski expects to be its biggest year yet.
“Originally, it just started as a small group of males, the second year it involved female students, and this year it’s getting larger yet. We’re expecting our largest group so far,” said Hordeski.
The program was inspired by an in-service Hordeski attended in Winnipeg called the ABCs of Aboriginal learning - which was taught by James Sinclair and Rebecca Chartrand.
“For the first time I really felt like they gave me permission, that although I’m not of Aboriginal background they gave me permission to invite people in to share. They gave me permission to learn and to share with the students. I felt welcome,” said Hordeski.
Different things he has done with the students include cooking, playing Aboriginal games, and learning about different Aboriginal topics.
“We have a lot of opportunities to do a lot of cooking together. We had the opportunity to make moose stew, we’ve made bannock. In the kitchen it opens up a lot of opportunities for sharing and discussion,” said Hordeski.
Students took in other topics like Aboriginal legends, the medicine wheel, healthy dating, talks from elders, and talks on self-respect.
“Ultimately, it’s a program that wants to celebrate Aboriginal culture, promote self-esteem, promote respect, promote all the things that Aboriginal people have held sacred for so many years.”
He notices that not only do the students take a lot away from the group but he also learns from the group.
“I’m getting a lot out of this. I’ve had Aboriginal students come up to me and thank me for teaching them about their culture, which gives me a really good sense of accomplishment. I’m learning a lot from them,” said Hordeski. “Some of the students are very, very connected to their culture and they bring a lot to the table. I learn from them.”