(Fort McMurray, AB - September 20, 2022) It is no secret that the world of education is changing; the traditional learning model in a brick-and-mortar school is no longer the only option for students. FMPSD is committed to providing all students with opportunities to learn through inquiry and exploration in natural and built environments and land-based learning is one way FMPSD supports this commitment. Land-based learning experiences are designed to connect students with the land and develop an understanding of environmental stewardship, traditional knowledge, local food production, and more. Through these programs, students can learn everything from plant identification and ecology to carpentry and sustainable farming practices.
In support of providing students with unique learning opportunities, Superintendent Annalee Nutter details student interest in these programs.
“We opened this school year with a land-based camp for our Junior High students because they have been asking for so long, expressing that they hadn’t had as many opportunities to attend a camp as the grade 10-12 students. It was important for us to do this after receiving their request, and so we worked with out-of-town Knowledge Keepers who were visiting for the ATC Cultural Festival as well as our Indigenous educators [to create these experiences]. Similar to last year, we will have a number of seasonal camps; they are very popular with all age groups.”
Students develop a sense of belonging by participating in land-based learning. FMPSD’s land-based camp ran from September 12-14 and saw many students directly engage with this unique educational opportunity. Students participated in plant identification, smudging circles, Dene hand games, beadwork and listened to cultural stories. These camps help to connect students with the natural world and foster a sense of wonder and respect for the environment. In addition, land-based learning camps like this help to build community by bringing together students from different backgrounds and experiences.
Earlier in the month students experienced the Athabasca Tribal Council’s (ATC) Cultural Festival which returned after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The festival, which ran from September 8 - 11, included more than seventy workshops, demonstrations and performances reflecting the area’s Indigenous culture. Students participated in workshops that included jigging lessons, fish scale art, balloon animals, listening to Elder stories and making traditional bannock. Trappers and hunters showed students how to clean and prepare meats, tend hides and use tools.
Land-based learning experiences help to foster lifelong stewardship values. FMPSD is preparing students for success in school and beyond by providing them with hands-on, real-world learning opportunities.
For additional information, contact:
Fort McMurray Public School Division