Celebrating Indigenous Culture - PRSD hosts 12th Annual Hand Games Competition

Celebrating Indigenous Culture - PRSD hosts 12th Annual Hand Games Competition

For immediate release
April 26, 2018 –
The sounds of chanting, drumming, cheering, and the smells of sage, stew and bannock will fill the gymnasium at EE Oliver Elementary School in Fairview as hundreds of Peace River School Division (PRSD) students gather for PRSD’s 12th Annual Pakisiwin (Hand) Games competition on May 4, 2018.

“The PRSD Hand Games Competition is a high-spirited event that brings students from across the division together” says PRSD Board Chair Darren Kuester. “This is one of many ways we honour, teach and share First Nations Metis and Inuit traditions and culture. Our Indigenous ancestors hold the knowledge and history of our country, and we are committed to ensure our students are provided with ample opportunities to learn, experience and benefit from the significance and value of their ways.”

The games will begin at 9:30 am with blessings and prayers from Elder Dave Matilpi, ceremonial smudging, drumming and the recognition of Territory 8 land. During the opening ceremony, PRSD will offer a special tribute in memory of Elder David Cummings from the Fairview area who recently passed away. Elder Cummings was very involved in PRSD schools and was passionate about sharing his teachings with students and staff.

The traditional Hand Games were introduced to PRSD schools over a decade ago as a way to further value and celebrate the traditions and culture of Indigenous peoples. The game teaches dexterity, hand-eye coordination, stretching and agility, and through direct experience, it shows students how to relate to one another, how to have fun, how to test oneself, how to be a good sport and demonstrate fair play.

“This event is very special to Peace River School Division” says PRSD Superintendent Paul Bennett. “The energy level leading up-to, and during the competition is absolutely incredible. To see and be among hundreds of students joined together chanting, cheering, learning and sharing in the traditional Indigenous game dating back hundreds of years is very powerful.”

Hand games can also be known as the “bone game” or “hand stick game” and have been a part of First Nation’s history for hundreds of years and are still played in many parts of North America. Historically the games were played as a means of trading goods as well as for social entertainment. While specifics of the game vary by region it is traditionally played as a hiding and guessing game where players use lively gestures and chanting to distract their opponents and ensure they do not guess in which hand they are hiding an item. Winners are awarded sticks and eventually the winning team will have all or a majority of the sticks. The game is also accompanied by traditional drumming.

First Nations Metis and Inuit history, culture and traditions are integrated into everyday learning, curriculum and various school assemblies and events.  Throughout various schools in PRSD, students are also provided opportunities to participate in sweat lodges, the Blanket Exercise, listening to the teachings of Elders, the Seven Grandfather Teachings, Eagle feather ceremonies for high school graduates, Aboriginal Studies courses, storytelling, participation in Orange Shirt Day and Aboriginal Day celebrations, the hand-games competition, culture clubs and the Aboriginal Career Fair.