Elementary school responds by bringing in elder in response to bullying

After Tyburious Saddleback, a Grade 2 student at Ponoka Elementary School, was bullied for having his long hair in braids and expressed his desire to cut his hair, staff took action by having Montana First Nation elder Sheila Potts speak to his class. Potts spoke to the class about the significance that long hair and braids has in their culture. “In my teaching it’s because it’s family unity and you’re intertwining your family together,” said Potts. “I told them that our ancestors had long, beautiful hair. … But the meaning of the braid is what is the important thing.” Saddleback now proudly wears his braids. “To me, it’s about having First Nations students have a voice, take up space in the classroom and be very proud of who they are and where they come from,” said Assistant principal Shelagh Hagemann. “Our job is to teach. And we’re very thrilled to have the elders come in and provide those opportunities and work alongside us.”