Terrace Ridge School students examined water and learned about First Nations’ and Métis history and culture through Watershed Day.
The event held May 30, saw activities ranging from examining the ecosystem of a pond, to traditional First Nations food and medicines found in nature, to stories of history shared by elders, lessons of water conservation, forest animal discoveries, and music.
“We have been learning about the watershed for many years at our school, now adding Indigenous culture. It started with wetlands, and now partnering with Battle River Watershed Alliance,” said Laurie Phillips, Grade 4 teacher and event organizer. “Part of looking after the world is to become a student leader, understand and develop projects that give back to the earth.”
The bi-annual Watershed Day is possible through an Animals, People and Environment (APE) Fund, with the Jane Goodall Institute. Phillips said it’s an important day to connect lessons about First Nations, and Métis history and understand our connection with the environment.
“Rather than being only stewards of the environment, we want (students) to understand that everything they do impacts something else, and someone else. It’s all connected and life requires balance,” said Phillips.
“When we take something from the environment, we really need to be thankful, use little and use it well, with less waste. It’s important for students to know where a resource comes from and that everything in one watershed is connected to the next, eventually connecting to the ocean and then it’s all recycled. When it comes back we want it healthy.”
Grade 4 student Madyson Wilmot said the most important part for her day was connecting with others.
“It is really nice for people who don’t know, to learn a little bit about First Nations. We sort of share what we learned and what we have found fascinating,” she said. “Meeting all the new people is the best part, some new elders come every year and hearing what they have to say.”
The lessons of the day hit home for many Terrace Ridge students.
“We started off with stories in the tipi and we learned the importance of water and here at the pond we learned about all the creatures that live in our watershed,” said Patrick Holwerda, Grade 5 student. “A third of Alberta is covered in wetlands. It’s important. Once the water is all gone, everything is gone.”
Wolf Creek Public Schools also provided support for the event, via its Division office team, hosting Indigenous Games, an authentic Cree tipi, elder wisdom and guidance, and lessons on Métis culture.