September 22, 2023

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Blossoming flower: Land-based schooling takes root in Edmonton river valley

Blossoming flower: Land-based schooling takes root in Edmonton river valley

Lengthy earlier than reaching the children frolicking close to a teepee in Edmonton’s river valley, you’ll be able to hear their excited chatter.

Over spring break, 10 kids realized Cree, baked bannock, raced on snowshoes and adopted animal tracks within the forest.

Starting from 4 to 10 years outdated, they’re the primary members of the land-based schooling program Blossoming Flower.

Organizers say the launch is step one in a bigger imaginative and prescient with plans to ultimately increase to colleges and daycares.

“The attractive factor concerning the land-based college is it is rooted in anti-racism,” stated Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, co-founder and govt director of Yellowhead Indigenous Training Basis.

“All kids are welcome to study concerning the relationship to the land, to the water, to wildlife, to ecosystems, biodiversity. That is about planting seeds of sustainability, in order that future generations can coexist in peace, love, friendship — simply as treaties had been the inspiration for us to exist right here.”

Two children and an adult cook over a fire in the forest.
Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse, left, says Blossoming Flower teaches future adults to co-exist in peace, love and friendship. (Craig Ryan/CBC)

Final week’s actions happened within the newly opened Indigenous sacred area in Whitemud Park — kihcihkaw askî — the place members of the general public will quickly have alternatives to go to.

Oleva McRae, 10, stated she loved studying open air, constructing on her beadwork expertise and connecting to her Métis identification.

“You possibly can set free your true colors since you really feel completely different and calm,” McRae informed CBC.

She stated attending a college that provides a full-time land-based schooling “could be enjoyable if you do all of your work out right here. It is extra calming than indoors.”

The sun shines a the face of a smiling woman in a toque and sunglasses
Tiffany Smith says the land-based schooling program permits kids to construct relationships by tradition. (CBC Information)

Tiffany Smith, Blossoming Flower’s schooling program director and co-founder, stated this system builds relationships by understanding by studying about Indigenous language and tradition and having folks from Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds come collectively.

“It’s totally experiential studying primarily based,” Smith stated. “They’re studying all types of expertise that are not being taught in silos. They’re studying physics, they’re studying geography, historical past.”

She stated “studying on the land permits kids to study in all completely different modes” whether or not it is studying concerning the pure world round them or climbing a tree.

Boy sitting in a teepee smiles at the camera.
Christian Holt, eight, says he seems ahead to sharing the Cree language with others. (CBC Information)

“My expertise has been nice right here,” stated Christian Holt, 8. “There isn’t any restrict to what you are able to do in nature.” 

Holt stated he seems ahead to sharing what he is realized.

“I like asking folks if I can inform them a bunch of cool details about issues, and now I can inform folks details about Cree.”