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Dan Russell was gifted a Pendleton blanket following GC Huston Public School’s annual Pow Wow dance demonstration June 8. From left, Crystal Kewageshig, Kaylyn Kewageshig, Dan Russell and Lorne Pawis.

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GC Huston Public School Principal Dan Russell was honoured on Friday, June 8 following the school’s annual Pow Wow dance demonstration when he was gifted a Pendleton blanket on behalf of Saugeen Education and staff at the Southampton school.

After eight years at GC Huston, Russell is leaving his post and heading to Alexandra Community School in Owen Sound.

See: Dan Russell to say farewell to the Home of the Hawks

Crystal Kewageshig, organizer of the Pow Wow dance demonstation and an ECE at GC Huston, said that in Anishinaabe culture it is a great honour to be gifted a Pendleton blanket. “We would like to honour Mr Russell with this Pendleton blanket to recognize all of his hard work and dedication to our school, the students, the families, the staff and surrounding communities,” she said to the packed gymnasium. “Your work here will never be forgotten and your presence at the Home of the Hawks will truly be missed,” she added.

Kewageshig explained that Pendleton blankets came in an array colours and designs but, most importantly, they each came with a story and went on to tell the story of Mr Russell's blanket.

“An Odawa legend tells of Wiigwaas, a boy gifted by the Creator at birth with the desire to help his people. His childhood was spent hunting, gathering, and constructing shelters with his elders. Wiigwaas had to leave his community at a young age and a white birch tree was planted in his honour. The tree provided bark for wigwams, canoes, hunting and fishing gear. The Birch Path honours the legend of Wiigwaas and his aspiration to help others with an all over design of connected branches,” she explained.

Kewageshig said that Wiigwas was a true leader as was Mr Russell. “The overall design of connected branches reminds us of your saying, ‘Once a Hawk, always a Hawk.’”

Lorne Pawis, from Wasauksing in the Parry Sound area and now living in Saugeen Shores, was one of the adult dancers at the GC Huston Pow Wow. He agreed that receiving the blanket was indeed an honour. “That’s how you know you did something extra special and you did your work,” he said. “What it represents is to keep us warm and to hold us together as a community. It's a high honour,” he added.

After receiving the gift, Russell said he was truly honoured. “It's just a beautiful, beautiful, significant gift,” said Russell. “This is my last Pow Wow as school principal but I have to tell you the sound of the drum and that beat never leaves your heart, never leaves your soul. I know I am going to be called back for the next Pow Wow as a guest and participate that way so this is not my last Pow Wow at GC Huston, miigwetch.”


GC Huston teacher Enid Johnson (centre) holds the Pendleton blanket for everyone to see before it was presented to Principal Dan Russell (right).


Adult dancers at the Pow Wow dance demonstration, Kaylyn Kewageshig and Lorne Pawis, sang an honour song for GC Huston Principal Dan Russell in honour of his hard work and in recognition of his being gifted with a Pendleton blanket.


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