9th Annual Land Based Education Conference

This years annual Land Based Gathering took place in Sandy Bay First Nations at Isaac Beaulieau Memorial School. The youth gathered together from nearby communities of Pinaymootang, Peguis, Ebb n Flow and others to participate in this years events. Rhiannon Woodhouse, a student from Pinaymootang School said the following of why she decided to register for the Conference, “I was invited by my land-based teachers to come to the youth gathering and I thought about it and decided it was a one-time opportunity, so I took it. I wanted to experience what it was like. I’m really looking forward to the archery class.” Rhiannon also explained how her Land-based education class learns how to make bannock and deer meat, learn language and even syllabics in their classroom back in Pinaymootang First Nation. I asked her what she would want to tell other kids who are thinking of coming next year, “I’d want other kids to know how much fun it is, and if they ever get the opportunity to do something like this to take the chance and the opportunity to try new things.” Some of the workshops included leather making and stretching and preparing hides, ribbon skirt making, bannock making over a fire, traditional ice fishing, drumming, clan systems, languages, traditional games and snowshoeing, sweat lodge teachings, traditional medicines, storytelling/ legends, residential school awareness, archery, jingle dress teaching, self-healing workshop, diabetes workshop, tea boiling, and clan systems to name a few. “The main thing is, I wanted to make sure the kids really enjoy the sessions. I tried to make it so there were fun things alongside the teachings, that there was a good balance.” Marie Strong said of her role in planning the conference. “It is a lot of work organizing this event. A lot of work. But, I really enjoy this part of what I do, I love working with the kids and getting back to our traditions and teachings as First Nations people. I think in some ways we lost some of it, but we’re reviving it, even our languages. I feel really good about doing this work. In the end, it’s something positive for the kids that they may pick up and keep with them. Even if they don’t pick up everything, even if they leave with something, even a new friend, it’s worth it. It’s still excellent.”

The participants were able to come experience the Land Based teachings and can now say they have done it themselves. They have ice fished, skinned deer, made bannock from scratch over a fire, made their own ribbon skirt and sang at the drum. It is an inspiring sight to see the youth being empowered in their own cultural knowledge and teachings. Everyone was respectful and engaged, making friends and generally having a great time together in the community. Alicia Spence from Peguis shared her experience as a first-time participant, “I really enjoyed the archery and the ribbon skirt making class. It was my first time making one and I’m actually really proud of myself! It was my first time even using a sewing machine, and now I have a skirt I can wear to sweats and ceremonies back home.”

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