Waninitawingaang Memorial School outdoor education activities bringing students and their families together
Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla - Staff Writer
Waninitawingaang Memorial School in Kejick Bay, Lac Seul First Nation, is conducting outdoor education activities with kids and their families during the pandemic. The principal of the school, Alisha Dasti-Hill said, “With the outdoor teachers, all the kids, with their families, participate and they learn lots of different things from going out on the land, like fishing and how to sustainably get firewood for the family.”
Hill explained that during the pandemic, the classes are held on alternate days, with the activities being conducted on their days off. She shared that given current circumstances from September onwards, they have been running family activities, which are vital bonding experiences. “I do believe that it is not easy. The kids are only coming every second day which is very important because we’re doing our very best to keep the kids as safe as humanly possible. But it is nice to be able to go out in nature and hopefully that bonding with their family, but also work on that mental health. Nature is one of the best things we can do for our mental health,” Hill said.
A Grade 7 student at the school, Joni Trout, who went out on the land with her sister, said, “I did some fishing with my family and I went hunting.” She added that she had a fun time with her younger sister, Bella. Bella said that her favorite part was fishing and that she would like to go again. The Outdoor Education Teacher for the Lac Seul Education Authority, Weslie Wabano said that their activities are season specific, based off what’s happening during a particular time of the year.
Wabano said that up until recently, before it got too cold, they were able to take students and their parents out and familiarize them with the waterways of Lac Seul. He added they also practiced their Treaty Rights with harvesting fish. The kids also got the opportunity to learn about the different fishing techniques and the right fish to target. Wabano said that the kids were taught to clean and cook the fish. "One of the teachings that we’ve always had is to share with the Elders and other people. They can share and then nothing goes to waste and also being responsible with the harvesting, making sure we don’t take too much, but just what is needed.”
Wabano said, “Right now, at this time of the year, most of the families that have wood stoves will be getting their firewood. So we’ve been getting firewood with students and parents, and it’s a lot of work. But the students have been doing a really good job and being proud of the families that are coming out and participating.” A Grade 4 student at the school, Cruiz Binguis-Johnston said, “My uncle chopped out a few trees and I just explored a little bit.” He said that he learned to go get firewood for his family. “It was pretty fun, to get out of the house a little bit and help with some wood,” he added. Wabano said that this is a great learning experience for the children, knowing how to sustainably exist with nature. “I’m not too sure if kids these days are able to experience going out on the land and getting firewood. It was just awesome to do that with families and to show the kids and give them the experience,” he concluded.