A Morning of Unity: Kapawe’no Nehiyawak Kiskinahamâtowikamik’s Young Voices Sing ‘Tansi – Hello’

September 29, 2023

Kapawe’no First Nation – It’s a typical morning at Kapawe’no Nehiyawak Kiskinahamâtowikamik (School), but there’s something in the air that makes it anything but ordinary. In the gymnasium, grade K-1’2’s are gathered, their faces brimming with anticipation. The music program, lead by Mr Fred Mack is about to perform the “Tansi – Hello” song with the Grade K-3’s as part of the Nehiyawewin morning session, a cherished ritual that bridges ancestral teachings with the joy of learning.

As the first notes fill the room, the younger students are the first to sing, “Tansi – hello,” their voices pure and excited. The room erupts in harmony when they ask, “Tansi kiya – how are you?” and respond, “Namoya Nantow – I am fine.” The children then warmly invite each other to “Pihtikwe – come on in” and “Api – sit down.”

But this isn’t merely a greeting. The song also serves as an invitation into the Nehiyawak way of life encapsulating values and traditions. When they sing “Maskihkiwapoy minihkwe – have some medicine tea,” it signifies a deeper understanding, a connection to Mother Earth and its healing properties.

As the song reaches its crescendo, the children raise their voices to say, “Tapwe miyawsin ipi Kihokawiyin – It’s nice that you’ve come to visit.” They then inquire about each other’s lives, asking “Tante ikitohtiyin – Where have you been?” and urging each other to “Mahti acimo kiwiyiositayin – Please tell me what you’ve been doing.” The song wraps up with the heartfelt request for storytelling: “Mahti acimostawin – Please tell me a story.”

It’s more than a song; it’s a communal affirmation of identity, belonging, and shared values. It’s a teaching moment, an acknowledgment of the importance of both spoken language and lived experiences. And as the final notes of the song reverberate in the gym, the children know that they’ve not only learned new words but also experienced a moment that connects them to their culture and to each other in a way that textbooks never could. This is the embodiment of true education—where ancient wisdom meets youthful curiosity, all wrapped up in a simple yet profoundly meaningful “Tansi – Hello.”

Last modified: October 2, 2023

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