Oki Napi – Bonjour mon ami!
Students in southern Alberta schools are learning about art and the region’s Indigenous history and culture with the help of an innovative two-year project.
Oki Napi – Bonjour mon ami! aims to build relationships and encourage exchanges between students and Indigenous people in 14 schools in the FrancoSud School District as a part of Alberta’s Education for Reconciliation initiative.
Central to the project are Blackfoot artist James Brittain and Blackfoot Elder Grant Little Moustache. Brittain and Little Moustache are traveling to various FrancoSud schools speaking with students about Blackfoot culture and cultural values and opening the floor to students’ questions and insights.
Brittain works with students and staff at each school to create a unique collaborative work of art to be displayed as a reminder of his visit and the lessons and values they discussed. At the unveiling of the school’s painting, everyone celebrates and Brittain shares a traditional dance with students.
Oki Napi – Bonjour mon ami! began in the fall of 2019 at Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix school in Calgary where, with Brittain’s help, 5th-grade students and school staff created a painting of an osprey holding a fish (pictured above).
Brittain and Little Moustache have since worked with students in Airdrie, Lethbridge, Canmore, and Calgary. They will visit nine more schools in Calgary, Okotoks, Brooks, Cochrane, and Medicine Hat between now and 2021.
Southern Alberta is in Treaty 7 territory. The Indigenous people of the Treaty 7 region include the Blackfoot Confederacy (comprised of the Siksika, Piikani, and Kainai First Nations), the Tsuut’ina First Nation, and the Stoney Nakoda (including the Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley First Nations).
Catherine Fisher, Blogger