Shawanosowe School enters first public speaking contest

Contestants, judges and officials gather for a photo following Shawanosowe School’s first public speaking contest. In photo are timekeeper Tracy Megwanabe, judge Melanie Manitowabi, Coby Billings, (back) judge Michael Erskine), Jenna Visitor, Ava Owl, Sterling McGregor, (Back) Victor Pitawanakwat, Leann McGregor, Avery Sutherland, Wesley McGregor and Peggy Simon.

BIRCH ISLAND—The students of Shawanosowe School in Whitefish River First Nation held their first ever public speaking contest and sent two of their own on to compete at the regional level the Royal Canadian Legion’s Island-wide competition on February 13 in Little Current.

“This is working out very well with our student’s studies of traditional storytelling,” said organizer Peggy Simon, “especially with it taking place in winter.”

According to Anishinaabe tradition, stories are told primarily in the wintertime. When snow is on the ground, Nanaboujou (Nanabush), the Trickster of First Nation legends, is sleeping. To mention his name when the ground is no longer frozen is to invite him to come and make your life miserable with his (sometimes deadly) pranks and tricks.

Judges Michael Erskine, Melanie Manitowabi and Victor Pitawanakwat had their work cut out for them in ranking the public speakers. “It was really tough,” said Constable Pitawanakwat. “They all did very well.” Even self-admitted tough marker Ms. Pitawanakwat said she was impressed with the student’s first efforts.

In the end, after all of the marks were tallied, three students in two categories took top spots on the podium. In Grade 6, it was Jenna Visitor in first place, Leeann McGregor in second place and Sterling McGregor in third.

The Grade 4 to 5 top place finishers were Ava Owl in first, Avery Sutherland in second, Wesley McGregor in third and Colby Billings in fourth.

“Jenna Visitor will be going on to represent Shawanosowe School at the regional level at the Little Current Legion on February 13 along with Ira Paibomsai from Grade 2,” announced Ms. Simon. “Our competitors will vie for a finish along with Wikwemikong, M’Chigeeng, Assiginack, Mindemoya and Little Current.”

Michael Erskine