Mother Teresa Middle School (MTMS) is built on the Jesuit ideal of ‘cura personalis,’ which means care for the whole person. This includes nurturing students’ intellectual, social, physical, emotional and moral development, and encouraging students to be spiritually alive. The Buffalo Boys Drum Group and First Nations Dancers are essential to promoting these critical pieces of a students’ holistic growth and development throughout their time at MTMS and as they mature into young men and women of conscience, competence, compassion and commitment.
The Buffalo Boys began as an after-school program at MTMS in 2016, led by Evan Whitestar and now, years later the group has flourished, learning and creating new songs delivered through their own unique drumming. Similarly, First Nations dancing at MTMS began in 2017 with the guidance and teachings of Paulete Poitras. Each student practices their own unique dance style; Fancy, Jingle and Traditional. More students are looking to engage in meaningful connections to their First Nation culture and MTMS helps facilitate these opportunities with local Indigenous artists and Elders in the community. Through these collaborative efforts, the Dancers also have a chance to design and create their own unique Regalia, learning about the traditions involved in making Regalia and what it represents.
Learning life lessons through experience and teachings delivered as part of the drumming and dancing are honouring the Truth and Reconciliations Reports “Calls to Action” in a real and authentic way. Teachings promote values such as honesty, humility and integrity, and moreover, how one can incorporate these values into their everyday lives. By living the values of the drum and those learned through dancing, MTMS students are becoming resilient young men and women of character; leaders who are coachable, teachable and employable. The majority of MTMS students are registered Treaty 4 members and represent nine different First Nations. Embracing this diversity and celebrating the culture of all MTMS students is a cornerstone of building a positive identity. When MTMS students are out in the community performing they are exemplifying what a healthy lifestyle, embedded in First Nation culture and education, looks like. The Buffalo Boys and First Nations Dancers provide a space for students to learn cultural practices, share in traditional ways and have pride in who they are.