Circus camp with Jerrod Bondy from March 20 to 24

By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The circus may not be coming to town, but it’s coming to Akisqnuk First Nation. Circus camp at Akisqnuk is being offered March 20 to 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Circus arts instructor, Jerrod Bondy, will facilitate the camp, allowing Akisqnuk kids to be wowed by all the wonder that happens under the big top.

“I think having kids experience the magic of circus is a wonderful thing,” said event organizer, Stella Sam. “Circus also brings body awareness, which can help in emotional regulation, improve fine and gross motor skills, promotes friendships and is an incredible self-esteem booster.”

Bondy is certified from the Ecole Nationale de Cirque in Montreal and has been a circus arts instructor since 2017. He said training is quite involved, earning clowning, acting techniques, several acrobatic and juggling skills, creating performances, and more. It’s like being a circus ringmaster, he said.

“You must manage a lot of different personalities and expectations amongst members of your team. Some want to take things too far and some don’t take things far enough! You’re always striving to find that middle ground. You also must study and practice a variety of different circus disciplines to demonstrate them to students.”

Bondy primarily teaches manipulation skills with the equipment for it carried in two large duffel bags. Bondy loves teaching hand-to-hand acrobatics, and safety is paramount. Bondy and Sam work together at Amy Woodland Elementary where Sam is an Indigenous education support worker. When Sam, found out that Bondy was a circus instructor she knew this kind of camp would be great for the kids at Akisqnuk. After speaking to her husband and Akisqnuk Chief, Don Sam, and the Akisqnuk Band social director, Bondy was hired for this first-of-its-kind circus camp. The camp will take place in both the Columbia Lake Recreation Center and the band hall at Akisqnuk First Nation. 

“I feel very honoured to be allowed to share my passion for the Circus Arts with the Akisqnuk First Nation,” said Bondy. “The circus arts is something that I find to be very transformative in that people of any age can use these skills to create something entirely new. I feel that there is something quite profound and uplifting about being able to share knowledge that is then transformed into something that kids can take personal ownership of. I very much look forward to seeing what the attendees will do when their imaginations take off as they come up with a performance routine.”

Bondy said the kids will learn skills including juggling, hand-to-hand acrobatics, hoop manipulation, clowning and more. He said circus arts teach persistence and humility; if an item one is juggling drops, or there’s a mishap in the routine, embrace it and keep going. A show will be performed on the last day at the Columbia Lake Recreation Center.

There is no clowning around to sign up as 12 of the 17 spots are already filled.  

“We are hopeful that this will be a self-esteem booster, from spending quality time with other kids in their community to being ‘stars’ in their community by bringing the magic of circus,” said Sam. “The culture of circus is like Indigenous culture in that it focuses on community and gatherings. Sharing your skills with your community is very much an indigenous concept, and circus teaches that as well.”