Grade four students from Sparwood and Elkford recently participated in the annual Upper Elk Valley grade four Celebration of Aboriginal Culture held at the Elk Valley Provincial Park. The day’s events were coordinated by Aboriginal Education Support Workers Colleen Trozzo and Natasha Gamache to enhance the social studies curriculum and the Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement.
Students took the opportunity to learn hands on about Aboriginal culture and traditions by rotating through cultural stations throughout the day. The events began in the morning with the students learning to set-up a tipi under the guidance of Joe Pierre Jr. Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement Facilitator, followed by stations where they learned about Survival Skills and Ethnobotany with Ktunaxa Ethnobotanist Joanne Fisher. They had a fire and cooked bannock on a stick while talking with Métis Nation Kootenay Representative Terry Anonson and his wife Karen. Ktunaxa Stories were told in the tipi with Joe Pierre Jr. and then Aboriginal games where they were given the opportunity to learn how to practice their hunting and gathering skills in fun, skill testing activities.
The students learned many things about First Nation and Métis culture such as which plants are good to eat, heal, and to avoid, as well as traditional First Nation survival skills. During story telling they learned about Ktunaxa culture through tales passed on through the years by elders and Aboriginal games taught them skills and endurance. Students learned what teamwork was all about when they set up a full size tipi and had fun creating new friendships.