Students, faculty, and community at the 2022 Tipi Raising Competition

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Team “The Champions” raise their tipi. Sarah Onyango

Making good use of the Academic Green 

by sarah onyango, contributor

On a windless Friday morning, students, faculty, and community members came together on the Dr. Lloyd Barber Academic Green in the perfect weather for learning the fundamentals of tipi raising. 

Returning to campus this fall, The Glen Anaquod Memorial Tipi Raising Competition made its first in-person return after the COVID-19 pandemic. The competition is coordinated by the ta-tawâw Student Centre, providing various teams the chance to learn about Indigenous culture and traditions. 

The competition was started in 2008 and serves as a fun, welcoming way for the community to experience first-hand the teaching of Indigenous values and customs. There is no outgoing cost for teams to join in the competition, providing no barriers to entering and participating in the event.  

The competition is in honor of the late Glen Anaquod (1948-2011), a culture & tradition advisor from Muscowpetung First Nation. Anaquod started the competition in 2008 as an extension of Treaty 4 Gathering, an annual gathering to reconnect, recognize, and honour the spirit and intent of Treaty 4. In his work as a cultural advisor, Anaquod wished to see traditions passed on and to integrate the traditions into campus culture. 

Derrick Mann, a competitor on ‘The Champions,’ had a team composed of his colleagues from Sask Energy. The company brought four teams and decided to compete together to boost morale as a bonding activity. 

“We brought eight new people this year,” said Mann. “Two completely new people who’ve never done it before at all. We do it for work, all from different departments in the building, and coming together as a community is what it’s all about.” 

Mann said he wants to keep the tradition going and appreciates getting to honour Anaquod’s legacy in this way. 

Participants are judged on teamwork, communication, form, and effort to honour the rule of not stepping over the poles. Categories spanned high school teams, women’s teams, campus teams, and community teams. Five teams at a time from each category were given 19 pegs, 15 pins, one canvas, a hammer, and 20 minutes to raise a tipi. 

The community-based event even served as the connection between old friends and relatives. Raith Kurk attended the competition to learn more about her culture and the history of tipi raising. 

“I’ve never really had the opportunity to do something like this. My mom encouraged me to come out today because she knew Glen and wanted me to be a part of honoring his legacy, which is something I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of.” 

Raith said she’s glad that events like these can now continue after the pandemic, and would like to take more of a leadership role as a student with the ta-tawâw Student Centre events in the future. 

Raith was able to join a community team of four with whom she shared stories and anecdotes about Anaquod passed down from her mother. “I spoke with a woman who knew my mom,” said Raith. “I feel that I’m getting so much out of this experience, I wanted to walk out of this knowing more about myself and I got just that.” 

The competition begins with an introduction to the history of the tipi and the meaning of the structure. Participants are led through an in-depth tutorial on how to raise a tipi with helpful tips, anecdotes, and lessons for the task they are about to perform. 

An original draft of this article was published on the INK News School of Journalism website.  

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