What Muskwa represents to the students at Kapawe’no Nehiyawahk Kiskinahamâtowikamik (School)

March 29, 2023

“Greatness comes in many forms, the greatest of these, the children that we work with every day!”    Superintendent of Schools, Boh Kubrakovich-Kiniw

Kapawe’no First Nation – The word Muskwa is the Nêhiyawak word for bear and is very important to the students at Kapawe’no Nehiyawahk Kiskinahamâtowikamik (School).  A little over a year ago in our East Forest (soon to be named the Muskwa Adventure Trail) an old tree was spotted along the trail with a knot in its tree trunk that looks like the protruding face of a bear. Students have named the old tree the Muskwa Spirit Tree and it has become a common place for tik tock and Instagram photo opportunities. Muskwa is also represented in the logo for Kapawe’no First Nation and is predominant in many of its policy and procedure manuals.  So why is Muskwa so important?

Nêhiyawak believe that all things are connected. Starting with Mother Earth. That all things are animistic; meaning that all living beings and some inanimate objects have spirits, or Manitowoc (Spirit Lands). Humans, through their dreams and visions, were able to secure the help of these powerful animal’s spirits in such activities as hunting, warfare and love in the days of long ago. Even today many of our student’s knowledge keeper / Elders talk to them about their dream time visions and honor the connections that Creator gives us between Mother Earth and Father Sky.

Earlier this year on a particularly cold evening the Kapawe’no Senior Men’s basketball team traveled to play against our neighbors the Whitefish Senior Men’s basketball team.  Upon arriving, the KFN School squad realized that they were sorely outnumbered. We had five warriors and the other team had a plentiful twenty plus players. Things were tense at the start until one of our players smiled and said proudly, “Don’t worry guys, Muskwa will lead us!” said Coaches Cory Cardinal Jr and Bryan Thomas. All the boys smiled, gave a cheer and played their hearts out.

Time and again, our students lean on Muskwa at times of difficulty or when things become hard, and each time, like Muskwa itself, we rise up and stand tall, towering above all obstacles and things in our path which threaten to hold us down.

In the Nêhiyawak way, Muskwa speaks to family, to have faith and courage, to be open minded and trust in our instincts.  We only have to see Muskwa in nature to understand this.  In the cold winter months, Muskwa hibernates and goes for up to six months without food, this shows us the courage and stamina that are needed to survive the worst storms.  When collecting honey from a hive Muskwa does not worry about the pesky bees bothering it.  It merely stays to the task at hand and moves on in positive ways. Muskwa fishes and after eating what it catches it ensures that Mother is nourished by leaving the bones and small morsels untouched to replenish Mother Earth and feed the smallest insects of Creation.

With the above in mind, we have a vision for our students, one where students take the teachings of Muskwa and work together in harmony and love. Where an environment of inclusion and diversity aligns all things of Creation and faith helps students in times of great difficulty.  As Superintendent of Schools, Boh Kubrakovich-Kiniw is excited to bring a wealth of knowledge about the teaching and execution of sport to our younger students who needs to recognize and celebrate their true athletic and academic excellence. We have many monikers at the school that speak to the heart of what we are trying to do there.  One is “KFN equals Kindness, Fairness and Nurturing Excellence”, another says “Be Great” and a third, “Your Best is Always Good Enough”, speaks to the hidden attributes, knowledge, and skillful talents possessed by our students and demonstrated to us each and every day.

“At our School we value our children and work with them in the spirit of Muskwa to bring out their best efforts each and every day. One of my many favorite mantras to echo through our hallways every morning is, we can’t be great if we are late – let’s get to class and remember, school is cool”, Bryan Thomas, Physical Education Teacher.

Love is what we offer and love is all we got and we will continue to go hard with Love. Our desired goal for the remainder of this year is for every child /student to be inspired by Muskwa and aspire to” Be Great” at all times. Mr Bryan Thomas is our Physical Education Teacher and former Olympian at our Kapawe’no Nêhiyawak School.

Last modified: April 11, 2023

Leave a Reply