During the last school year, grade 9 students at Sākewew participated in the Permaculture and Treaty Education program. This program is unique to Sākewew High School and gave 45 students diverse opportunities to connect with nature through art, music, photography, storytelling, treaty education, gardening, and field trips. Over the course of six months, eight different presenters worked with the grade 9’s, each of whom offered their own worldview relating to the land that we live on. With these different presenters, the students drew representative tree drawings to learn more about themselves and their life goals, learned about wolves and their place within healthy ecosystems, heard stories about sacred medicines and the creation of the world, experimented on instruments and made music collectively with a powerful message to look after the planet, explored nature from behind a camera’s lens, planted a food and medicine garden in front of the school, took a field trip to Finlayson Island to learn about local medicinal plants, and to Ness Creek, to hike, canoe, fish, garden, and spend time in the boreal forest, and picked mints and braided sweetgrass harvested right at the school!
All these hands-on learning experiences allow students to explore their relationship to the Earth and to discover different ways of interacting with nature – some ancient and handed down through generations, some negotiated through modern technology and new thinking modalities, some creative and practical.
A strong personal connection to the nature world builds strong character, encourages pride in one’s culture and place they live, and promotes positive change among youth. With all of the problems afflicting our environment and our communities today, this type of real-world education is giving students an upper hand in meeting the unique challenges their generation will face.
This program would not have been possible without Nature Saskatchewan’s ongoing support of the NatureQuest program. Nor without the generous financial contributions of the Saskatchewan Outdoor Environment Education Association and the Saskatchewan Lotteries Fund, as well as The Saskatoon Community Foundation’s Macro Properties Prairie Partnership Grant.
By: Kjelti Katherine