For one day every year, little Breslau Public School plays host to the world.
Mar. 27 was World Awareness Day at the school, and students got a taste for cultures and traditions from around the world with activities ranging from yoga and tai chi to African drumming.
It’s the fifth year the school has held the event, and it’s been a smash hit with the students since it started.
“The day of, there’s a hum in the school,” said Debby Pavlove, one of the organizers. “It’s one of the kids’ absolute favourite days of the year.”
Since it started, world awareness day has grown beyond cultural study to include environmental and disability awareness. This year, the day got off to a rocking start with a basketball game involving the K-W Spinners wheelchair basketball team.
Teacher Maureen Peats came up with the idea when she started teaching in Breslau, because she found the school very homogenous.
“I wanted the students to be aware there was a bigger world out there,” she said. “We thought we’d bring the world here, in some small way.”
“It’s about being able to feel the history,” explained Scott Carpenter, who brought musical instruments, clothing and games for his presentation on Métis culture.
Carpenter works for the Métis Nation of Ontario, teaching kids a lesser-known side of Canadian history. He learned it was his history only 10 years ago; his grandfather denied his Métis ancestry because it was not advantageous to be Métis in the early 20th century, when many of the political and social leaders in Ontario were members of the Orange Order.
“In Ontario, you weren’t going to be Métis because you liked your neck where it was,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter’s family can trace their history back to three different voyageurs with the Northwest Company. Learning about his genealogy inspired him to learn more about Métis culture and pass that on to others. Along with trying their hand at Métis games, Carpenter hoped the students also learned there are different perspectives to Canadian history.
Peats would love to have a world awareness week.
But even with just one day of activities, you can see the kids’ horizons have expanded a little, Pavlove noted.
“You can tell it’s definitely planting a seed.”