Our Whyte Ridge: Festival du Voyageur in Whyte Ridge

Students at Whyte Ridge school get into the spirit of the Festival du Voyageur every year by creating a celebration all their own. Grade four students explore this important and fascinating part of our Métis and First Nations history during French classes. They then plan and produce a multimedia presentation where the school gym comes alive with students dressed in character dancing gigues and fast-paced folk dances and leading sing-alongs where the entire school and audience are invited to clap and sing.  This year’s Voyageur show took place on February 24th.

The Voyageur assembly has become an important tradition at Whyte Ridge where the entire school takes part. The community also really seems to appreciate our yearly show as it is always well attended. Classes throughout the school learn the songs and French vocabulary during Exposure French time. Grade four students perform in the show as actors, singers, musicians and dancers, with guests from other grades. Students who have gone on to middle school come back yearly to continue performing in the show.  Josiah Wurch, grade 8 student at HGI, has shared his musical talents for the past five years playing a gigue on the violin and singing. Victoria Tarasiuk, Emerson Hutzul and Jack MacMillan have also performed multiple times as guest soloists.

Voyageur season is an exciting time of the year to highlight our vibrant First Nations history while learning French. It is also an important opportunity to recognize that the history of this community is closely tied with that of First Nations and Métis people. Val Wood, Whyte Ridge principal, reminded the audience that Whyte Ridge School is situated on treaty no. 1 land which is Métis homeland and traditional hunting ground of several First Nations.

Here is what some of the students had to say about their Voyageur experience:

Ellie K. : “It was fun to learn about how the Voyageurs used to live. I almost felt like one.”

Catherine: “I liked the singing and dancing and the actors.”

Fayth: “Many parents came and it was fun they got to see what we are learning in French.”

Matthew M.: “It was lots of fun to learn the different dances.”

William G.: “I really liked acting like a Voyageur and dressing up”.

Rylan C. and Eric P: “I like how we learned what they wore and felt what it was like to live then.”

Communications Director and website admin for Whyte Ridge CC in Winnipeg, Manitoba