By Sam Laskaris
M’CHIGEENG FIRST NATION — Students from Lakeview School in M’Chigeeng First Nation are preparing to lay out the welcome mats for their directorial debuts.
As part of their Anishinaabemowin-speaking class, more than 50 students from the school have been working on a project since early January.
The majority of the students, in Grades 4-8, created modelling clay action scenes, using the Ojibwe language to tell a story. A few of the students used LEGO instead of clay for their projects.
The students were then taught how to use a stop-motion filming app and then utilized an editing app to produce short films.
A total of 22 projects were created, the majority of them featuring students working in pairs.
All of the projects, each about a minute in length, will be screened collectively for the first time this Thursday, Mar. 9, at the school.
All of the students at the school as well as parents, family members, friends and members of the community are welcome to attend the screening.
“I’m really impressed with some of the work the kids have done,” said Lissa McGregor, the school’s senior Ojibwe language teacher.
Lakeview School students have their Ojibwe-speaking class every school day for 50 minutes. McGregor usually teaches a lesson for the first half of each class. And since the second week of January, students have been spending the second half of each period to work on their projects.
While the majority of projects were completed by last week, some students were still putting the finishing touches on their works this week.
Some of the projects were based on traditional stories. For example, a couple of Grade 7 students completed their project on Wendigo, a mythological creature.
Others students created original stories. Also, a Grade 6 project was an adaptation of how the beaver got a flat tail.
“Some of the stories have narrators, some of them have narrators and the characters talking and some of them just have characters talking,” McGregor said, adding a requirement was the entire project had to be spoken in Ojibwe.
Another must for each project was it had to have a teaching or learning lesson.
“I wanted to engage them in speaking the language,” McGregor said. “To me, that’s the most important thing.”
McGregor added students were also working on their planning and storytelling skills during the process.
“They were also learning other skills transferable outside of Anishinaabemowin,” said McGregor, a member of Whitefish River First Nation, who is in her second year of teaching at Lakeview School.
Lorraine Debassige, who is an Elder and a teaching assistant in McGregor’s class, also helped the students create their projects.
Others who provided assistance were Elaine Debassige, who also teaches Ojibwe to younger students at the school, and Roger Brasil, the IT staff person.
“It was an enjoyable and excellent learning opportunity,” said Lourdes Taukei, a Grade 8 student. “I especially enjoyed making the scenes out of clay and learning how to bring things to life with just a piece of clay. I think this was one of by far the best art creation projects we’ve done in my Anishinaabemowin class ever.”
Lakeview school principal Gayle Payette praised the students for the work they put into their projects. And she’s thrilled others will now have an opportunity to see all of the films.
“Being able to showcase their efforts to the school and to M’Chigeeng First Nation will demonstrate the pride that we have for them, as we know that they continue to be capable of amazing accomplishments,” Payette said.