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'A beautiful thing': New musical at Winnipeg school incorporates Cree language

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Students at one Winnipeg school are about to debut a new musical that incorporates a number of languages, including Cree.

The musical is called ‘Peynikamun Nici,’ which is Cree for ‘sing with me, my friend.’

The show was created for Grade 3 and 4 students at Arthur E. Wright School, with the stories behind the songs gifted by Elder Winston Wuttunee, an Indigenous entertainer.

“These are stories that happen every day,” Wuttunee said in an interview on Friday.

Music teacher Jordan Laidlaw helped bring life to the musical, which is about understanding, identity, discovery and inclusion.

The show’s lyrics are a combination of English and Cree, with French, Punjabi and Filipino integrated into it as well.

“As teachers, it’s our mandate to promote reconciliation with our Indigenous communities and to learn,” Laidlaw said.

“I think it’s just having a huge impact on their learning. We have lots of newcomers, settler students who have been here for generations and we have our first peoples – it’s really quite a beautiful thing when everyone is just getting together and making music together.”

Laidlaw said a lot of the other students in the school are looking forward to seeing the musical.

“I think it’s going to continue to have a big impact on the community in general,” he said.

The students are set to perform the musical on Thursday night at Maples Collegiate.

Wuttunee said he hopes the students will walk away from this experience with a sense of understanding, caring and love.

- With files from CTV's Danny Halmarson.

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