Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Receiving Our Name
by Sheena Koops
When Mrs. Jill Young Lee, our Vice-principal approached me about the possibility of an Adult 12 program at Bert Fox Community High School for the 2016-2017 school year, I immediately thought of asking Kete-ayah Alma Poitras from Peepeekisis First Nation if she would help begin this program in a good way by giving us a name. I had seen this process happen once before when Sandy Pinay Schindler approached Elder Sam Isaac from Ochapowace First Nation to choose a name for the Prairie Valley School Division Magazine, Kitoskayiminawak Pikiskwewak which can be translated “Our Young People Speak”.
I offered Kete-ayah Alma tobacco and had a beginning conversation about some of the ideas behind the program. One of the things I remember her telling me is that when we get our name, we should also have it translated into Saulteaux and Dakota to best represent our student body.
In the fall, once school had begun, and once Kete-ayah Alma had met some of the Adult 12 students, and once she spent time in prayer, she texted me that she had a name. I met with Kete-ayah Alma at the Squire and she wrote down this name, oski-pimohtahtamwak otayisīniwiwaw. She drew a circle to help illustrate that these young people were just at the beginning of their adult journey. She said that they are opening doors to reach their highest ability. They are going into their own spaces, opening a door to their own mental ability. Some have been restricted, always doing what they were told to do, but never having a chance for what they can be. This is their journey of their lifetime, learning, walking it. They will go, with their whole selves, in that space, their whole being making their way forward. This is a new journey, a birth toward wisdom, smartness, learning, education, knowledge.
Kete-ayah Alma explained to me that I am to give that right, to believe in them, opening doors so they can use their own potential. They have been given this right, this ability, this knowledge into having control or taking control of their own learning and that they are not to be restricted in this learning.
Finally, she wrote down the following translation into English: They are into their new journey to knowledge.