Drumbeats and signing could be heard on the grounds of Prince George Secondary School today as the All Nations Outdoor Teaching and Learning Centre was opened.
The Aboriginal Education Department’s Shelly Niemi explains it’s one of the first steps School District 57 is taking to integrate traditional aboriginal teaching methods into the education system.
“One of the things that education systems all across British Columbia are trying to do is look at ways to have reconciliation. And I think that creating space within a public education system that is dedicated for aboriginal ways of knowing is just doing that.”
The structure will be used by students and staff as an alternative to staying within the confines of a traditional classroom. Niemi says it will offer an experiential learning experience to students and faculty at PGSS.
“As an educator this is a perfect opportunity to take a structure like this and be able to weave it not only through one of your subjects but through multiple of your subjects and start to look at education from an experiential based place.”
Lheidli T’enneh Elder Edie Frederick gave an opening prayer. Frederick has been involved in experiential learning projects at UNBC.
“People have different learning styles and First Nations, that’s the primary style that we have is hands on learning techniques. It stays with them forever when it’s being taught like that.”
Moving forward, Niemi says the structure will be booked in advance by teachers to get their students out of the classroom and into the outdoors.
“Parents and community members really wanted to have more land based and place based education for aboriginal and non -aboriginal students to learn about not only local histories but histories all throughout Canada. About aboriginal ways of knowing, and traditional knowledge, and experiential learning.
This is the first experiential learning structure within the school district to provide First Nations experiential education. Those from the aboriginal education department say it will benefit not only first nations students, but all members of the PGSS community.
— Victoria Levy (@VictoriaCKPG) December 3, 2015