Education News Fall2015/Winter 2016 - Page 4

Educational Psychology Class Hosts Boys with Braids

Students inspired by their professor ’ s stories about her son ’ s experiences with having long hair and a braid , decided to host the first Regina Boys with Braids event to promote cultural awareness and sensitivity .
On March 23 , the first Regina “ Boys with Braids ” event was held , coordinated and hosted by Educational Psychology ( EPSY ) 217 students with professor , Dr . JoLee Sasakamoose . The event was wellattended , packed full with lively children , youth , and parents and caregivers interested in hearing and sharing Indigenous teaching on the sacredness of hair and in encouraging a sense of pride in those participating in the Indigenous cultural practice of growing and braiding one ’ s hair .
Cadmus Delorme ( Future 40 winner ) mc ’ d the event , using humour to create a comfortable and safe place for people to share their stories and struggles with reviving pride in their children ’ s identity as Indigenous peoples . Emerging elder in residence , Joseph Naytowhow , offered his own story about growing his hair . He also drummed and sang to welcome the group .
Dion Tootoosis , from the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre , was the key speaker . He taught about the sacredness of hair , and the importance of including children in ceremony . Tootoosis called the revival of Indigenous practices and ceremonies an “ Indigenous Renaissance .” Regarding moving forward , Tootoosis said , “ The past happened . Nothing can be done about it . We have a broken relationship .... We can ’ t continue to work in isolation , but must work together .”
Speaking directly to those with braids in the room , Tootoosis said , “ You are a living symbol of resistance against an oppressive system that has been trying to kill you since before you were born .” In response , the audience applauded . Tootoosis continued , “ Yet we remain ... our languages remain , we are still here .”
To parents , he instructed , “ Don ’ t teach your children to hate ... Dilute hate at every opportunity ... Fight for your child ’ s identity and integrity .”
Some EPSY 217 students who participated in organizing the event offered the following comments regarding its significance :
To me the significance of the Boys With Braids event was to empower and educate . We need to let young men know that wearing braids is OK , and embodies something culturally significant . It is important to share the message of significance , as cultural traditions , especially amongst First Nations people , are fading away . Cultural traditions can assist in providing an identity to a person , and the loss of such a sacred tradition would be heartbreaking . Many young men may lose their way and not become the person they were meant to be .
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