Hearing a First Nations elder make a Facebook joke would seem out of the ordinary, but not at the Aboriginal Student Centre. Reginald Bugler jokes with his students about the social site but then focuses the topic to waypeetowin, a Cree word for peer pressure. He talks about the pressures children face through media and how words are powerful and can harm. These are just some of the topics covered at the first ever ASC traditional parenting course.
He added it’s a misconception that First Nations people lack constructive parenting skills.
“We use a lot of praising. Anuskomon, giving thanks and thanking your children for their behaviours,” he said.
Bugler is a Cree elder from the Red Pheasant First Nation. He has been married for 36 years and has six children and 10 grandchildren. The traditional parenting lessons cover cradleboard teachings, smudging, harmony in child rearing, traditional behaviour management, and choices in parenting. The course is taught in eight sessions. The students have been attending classes since November and will graduate with a certificate on Jan. 19.
The course is titled ‘Honouring our Children by honouring our Traditions.’ Bugler explained history holds important parenting teachings. “I value the integrity and intellectual advanced knowledge of our ancestors,” he said.
Bugler encourages preventative methods in parenting. “The difference with Western parenting courses is they’re reactive – they’re putting out a bunch of different crises,” Bugler said.
“You only have a little window of opportunity to prepare your children to have good judgement when they’re confronted with the challenges of life later on,” he said.
Bugler spent over 28 years listening to teachings from elders. Gathering these teachings was no easy task. The teachings are passed down orally and Bugler had to earn his knowledge.
“For those who have kids, they can start incorporating (the teachings) in to their lives. Those who don’t have kids can start planning how to raise their children in the future,” said ASC events coordinator Jarrett Crowe.
“I’ve learned to manage my time more because I am a single mom. It is important to spend time with (my child). I get too busy and this course makes you realize your kid needs lots of time,” said participant Maegan Gardner.
Bugler agrees. “Parenting is an investment. But one you will appreciate down the road.”
Photo by Ntawnis Elyse Piapot. Elder Reginald Bugler shares a laugh with his students at the Jan. 12 traditional parenting course.