Home Outdoor education Catholic council offers stewardship lessons through an Indigenous lens

Catholic council offers stewardship lessons through an Indigenous lens


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The Huron Perth Catholic District School Board brought in Indigenous educators to help teach elementary students across the region about the importance of watershed stewardship.

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As face-to-face learning and outdoor education have been hampered by the pandemic at various times over the past school year, a new collection of water-focused digital resources has been presented to students at the Council of kindergarten to grade 8.

The Upper Thames Region Conservation Authority and the school board shared more details about the collaborative effort this week.

They called the project Water Is Life. His material – various multimedia presentations that encourage students to reflect on the importance of water and the steps they can take to conserve the local watershed – includes and is heavily influenced by The Water Walker, a children’s book written and illustrated by Anishinaabe water activist Joanne Robertson.

“The book was absolutely the stepping stone,” said Maranda MacKean, community education specialist with the Conservation Authority. “Water is what brought us together. We all have missions and organizational mandates around water, but we also all have personal connections, understandings and goals for taking care of water. We want to share that and teach that and bring the students to this place. “

Robertson’s book, published by Second Story Press in 2017, is based on the activism of Joséphine Mandamin, the influential Anishinaabe elder known for having walked thousands of miles around the shores of the Great Lakes to raise awareness of the need to protect them. of pollution.

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Mandamin, a Manitoulin Island residential school survivor who later moved to Thunder Bay with her husband and children, died in 2019, but her activism has inspired others to join the cause, sometimes called movement of walking on water.

In addition to Robertson, local Indigenous educators Brenda Collins and PatsyAnne Day, who frequently visit area classrooms, have also been involved in the development of the Water Is Life project.

“You can experience this by filling a bucket with water and walking around your house or school, just like Nokomis Josephine (the main character of The Water Walker),” Collins said. “When you have finished your walk, do not throw the water in the sewers; instead, go outside and pour it on your grass or garden. By doing this, you will learn how important water is to the Anishinaabe people. “

Tara Cakebread, board learning coordinator, said the project provided an opportunity to build relationships and support calls to action recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

“There are some things that are very exciting about it,” she said. “This project in itself was an opportunity for us to partner … and help support our students and their learning as well as, with our Indigenous partners, to connect our outdoor education work (and) our Indigenous education work .