Piitoayis Family School (Est. 2002) is a Kindergarten to Grade 6 Alternative Program that teaches the Alberta Education Programs of Study through a diversity of First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives and experiences. Our name, Piitoayis (pronounced bee-doe-yeez) translates into “Eagle Lodge” in the Blackfoot language and was named by five Elders (Mark Wolfleg (Siksika), Russel Big Crow (Tsuu T’ina), Freddy Eagletail (Tsuu T’ina), Olive Manitopyes (Cree Nation), and John Snow (Morley)). Historically and traditionally, we are situated in Blackfoot territory; therefore, we recognize and respect this by having a Blackfoot name. Our name, Piitoayis (Eagle Lodge) recognizes the spiritual significance of the “eagle” to most Aboriginal people as a symbol of love, and “lodge” recognizes the school as a gathering place for families and cultural ceremonies. Our Eagle Lodge Family School is open to all learners (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) in grades K-6 who want to learn about writing, math, science etc. through an Aboriginal lens.
At Piitoayis Family School, we welcome each day by honouring our people and land by standing proudly during Ka Kanada (Oh Canada in Cree) and a Blackfoot Flag Song. A traditional smudge with sage and a classroom talking circle also takes place each day. Throughout each school year, we offer a diversity of language learning experiences (e.g. Blackfoot, Cree, Coast Salish, Saulteaux), dancing (e.g. pow wow, jigging), drumming, singing and cultural arts. We have Elders in our school on a regular basis to lead ceremonies and provide our students, staff and families with opportunities to learn through their traditional wisdom and stories.