The students at Winlaw Elementary School hosted its own version of Quebec Winter Carnaval on Tuesday, March 3 to learn more about French Canadian culture and the tradition of this popular annual midwinter celebration.

With direction from Vanessa Finnie, a district’s innovative learning curriculum support teacher, students broke into multi-age groups in the afternoon and circulated through featured activities like snow sculpting, an obstacle course and the Canadian classic maple syrup dipped in snow on a stick! Prior to the afternoon festivities, students enjoyed a free lunch of tourtière (meat pie), appropriately themed and provided by the PAC.

Even the official Carnaval de Quebec mascot Bonhomme, a snowman-like character, made an appearance! Bonhomme, is the official representative of the Québec winter carnival. He wears a red touque and Metis arrow sash to honour the Metis heroes of the past.

Winlaw French teacher, Sue Peel helped to organize the event and said, “It’s a great opportunity for all of our students to have a French Canadian cultural experience and have some fun while learning the language.” Students played a Bingo game in French, learning new words and phrases en français.

Special guest Maurice Trudel, representative of Nelson & Area Metis Association and his family engaged the students in a fun Metis jigging activity where they were taught some basic dance steps and all about the traditional Metis sash.

The first major Winter Carnaval made its debut in 1894 in Quebec City, a celebration intended to relieve the tedium of winter and gather the community together and provide some relief from harsh cold conditions. Lucky for the Winlaw students, the sun was shining and the temperatures were above 0° on Tuesday, but there was still plenty of snow in the valley to make it feel like a winter celebration!

– School District 8 Kootenay Lake