Flying Dust First Nation youth spells his way to Toronto

By Bryan Eneas
April 11, 2017 - 12:00pm
Noah Merasty proudly displays his trophy from the second ever First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee. With his victory, Merasty now shifts his focus to the Spelling Bee of Canada which is hosted in Toronto, Ont.
Noah Merasty proudly displays his trophy from the second ever First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee. With his victory, Merasty now shifts his focus to the Spelling Bee of Canada which is hosted in Toronto, Ont. Submitted photo/Robert Merasty
The winners of each First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee category, along with a few event organizers. The competition brought students from 21 different Indigenous schools around Saskatchewan together for a chance to spell their way to the national stage.
The winners of each First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee category, along with a few event organizers. The competition brought students from 21 different Indigenous schools around Saskatchewan together for a chance to spell their way to the national stage. submitted photo/Robert Merasty

A small town kid from Flying Dust First Nation is on his way to likely the biggest stage of his life.

Noah Merasty, 12, a Grade 6 student from Gateway Elementary School in Meadow Lake placed first at the the second ever First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee in his age category, winning an opportunity to attend the Spelling Bee of Canada in Toronto.

“I felt pretty good when I won,” Noah said. “I felt pretty nervous and awesome.”

His dad, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Vice Chief Robert Merasty said he and Noah’s mother were probably more nervous than their son who was “cool and calm” while he spelled his way to victory.  

Noah prepared for the competition by studying and spelling words from a practise sheet he acquired in advance. His father attributed his win to a photographic memory, which he acquired in an unorthodox way.

“It was partly through his ability to read, and partly through gaming,” Rob said with a laugh.

The Vice Chief said his son has always read, and his school has pegged the Grade 6 student over a Grade 12 reading level.

Rob said he’s not only proud of his son but also all the other kids who “put themselves out there.”

“[The First Nations spelling bee] is a wonderful thing to do,” Rob said. “For Noah, we said to him ‘embrace you’re the Saskatchewan champ. It’s on you whether you want to go there and make a statement or just be yourself.’”

Noah and his family will not only be watching him spell on the national stage – they will also be making a vacation of sorts from the trip. The family hopes to attend a Toronto Blue Jays game, and as the Toronto Maple Leafs clinched a playoff spot on April 7, the family will try to attend a hockey game at the Air Canada Centre.  

Noah said he also wants to make it to the Ripley’s Aquarium, which is at the foot of the CN Tower in downtown Toronto.

Saskatchewan’s First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee is hosted by the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) in partnership with the Spelling Bee of Canada. According to SIGA’s website, the provincial spelling bee allows students to develop vocabulary, learn new word definitions and sentence structure along with increasing reading comprehension, understanding and reasoning. Public speaking skills are also developed as contestants must compete in front of crowds.

The Spelling Bee of Canada will be hosted in Toronto Ont. in early May, featuring the best spellers between the ages of six and 14 from around Ontario and Canada.

 

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