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New Blood show educates, entertains BJHS students
BRUCE PARKER
Brooks Bulletin

Reconciliation and residential schools were front and centre for Brooks Junior High students Wednesday.
The student body learned about both through a play and dance performance called New Blood.
New Blood tells the history of the last 100 years of the Blackfoot people through dance.
It was performed by Strathmore High School drama students, Blackfoot performers and students and graduates of the Rosebud School of Fine Arts.
The show was developed by Strathmore High School drama/dance teacher Deanne Bertsch. It was inspired by the life of former Blackfoot chief Vincent Yellow Old Woman who related to her his experiences as a child in residential school and how he found healing and became chief of his people.
The 60 minute performance featured a Buffalo hunt which was extremely important to the Blackfoot people, the fur trade, the history of residential schools and the effects of addictions.
Bertsch was interested to hear that students were learning about truth and reconciliation.
 “It is really exciting for us to hear that you are doing that,” she said.
 The show was created three years ago after Bertsch had visited Writing On Stone provincial park. She toured the pictographs and writings during which a Blackfoot guide told her that so many of the stories and writings had been lost from the late 1800s when the Blackfoot people were sent to reservations. She said as a drama teacher, she thought it would be important to relate the stories that exist.
 There are about 100 Blackfoot students at Strathmore High School that come from the Siksika Nation. She asked the Blackfoot class if they would be willing to create a show with her dance class and tell these stories.
 Brooks Junior High principal Jim Burchell applauded Bertsch for her amazing insight following the show.
 “What you do with these students is absolutely breath taking, so great job.”
 Burchell thanked the cast and said as a social studies teacher he has never seen anything so moving.
 “Thank you. You changed my heart.”
 Bertsch said people are very positive and always comment on what a moving and artistic production it is.
 “I guess because we keep getting invited to different places is a good sign,” she said.
 Bertsch said she feels the New Blood presentation is her calling.
 “I’m helping to get out an important story that matters to Canada and that makes a difference to people.”
 She said she is proud and especially proud of the students.
 Some of the students have been in it all three years.
 “I’m especially proud of them that they have just stuck with it and feel that it is important enough for them to put their time into it because they have to give up school and their time to be a part of it as well,” she said.
 Sho Blunderfield, 20, is one of the original cast members. He was in grade 12 at Strathmore High School when rehearsals began in 2014.
 He remains with New Blood because it continues to impact every audience.
 Blunderfield said he is very proud of the show and everyone keeps doing it because it is important to them. 
 Pacey Means has been with New Blood for two years. 
 “I think it is very great that natives are being recognized.”
 Means said the reaction has been very positive.
 “It is very touching to hear what people have to say at the end of the show.”
 Means said she has been to some schools where students did not understand the issues aboriginals had faced over the years.
 Getting the message out is something that gives her a sense of satisfaction, she said. 
 Bertsch said it would be great if an organization would step forward to fund the play and make it available to more and more people.
 The next stop for the show is Victoria.

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