Students and staff in Rainbow Schools will once again walk in harmony wearing their favourite moccasins for Rock Your Mocs Day – a global movement celebrated annually on November 15th.
Rock Your Mocs Day was founded in 2011 by Jessica Jaylyn Atsye from the Laguna Pueblo Indigenous Tribe/Nation in New Mexico to uplift the spirit of Indigenous people. Since its inception, the day’s message of unity, understanding and the importance of Indigenous identity has resonated worldwide.
“Moccasins are an important component of Indigenous tradition,” says Bruce Bourget, Director of Education with Rainbow District School Board. “Each pair is unique and reflects the Nation, territory and culture of those who wear them.”
He adds: “Rock Your Mocs Day is a time to acknowledge the contributions of Indigenous people and build understanding. We encourage everyone to wear their moccasins with pride.”
The word moccasin is a generalization for all footwear that is sewn together, and originates from the Algonquian language Powhatan. In the past, Indigenous Nations would have their own unique word for moccasin.
Making moccasins is a centuries-old craft passed down through generations. Historians believe the footwear was first created and worn by a variety of Indigenous tribes across North America dating back to pre-colonization times.
There are many cultural teachings behind the making of moccasins and moccasin styles.
Patterns and design showcase the characteristics, values and histories of Indigenous territories. Nations could often identify Indigenous people by their footwear.
To deepen their knowledge of Indigenous perspectives, schools received resources to share with students including videos and readings about the traditional significance of moccasins for Indigenous people.
On Rock Your Mocs Day, classes may take part in activities that tie moccasins to the curriculum in art, science and language such as making paper moccasins, and reading stories about the historical significance for different Nations.
Participants are invited to take photos to spread the word on social media using the hashtag #RockYourMocs.