Outdoor Education Connects Nature to the Classroom

Twice a year, the SaskOutdoors $upport Program offers funding to groups and classes around Saskatchewan for outdoor education experiences and environmental action projects. In 2014, one of these projects was the Sakewew Permaculture & Treaty Education Program organized by Sakewew High School and Nature Saskatchewan

This program is unique to Sākewew High School and gave 45 students diverse opportunities to connect with nature through art, music, photography, storytelling, treaty education, gardening, and field trips.

Over the course of six months, eight different presenters worked with the grade 9’s, each of whom offered their own worldview relating to the land that we live on. With these different presenters, the students drew representative tree drawings to learn more about themselves and their life goals, learned about wolves and their place within healthy ecosystems, heard stories about sacred medicines and the creation of the world, experimented on instruments and made music collectively with a powerful message to look after the planet, explored nature from behind a camera’s lens, planted a food and medicine garden in front of the school, took a field trip to Finlayson Island to learn about local medicinal plants, and to Ness Creek, to hike, canoe, fish, garden, and spend time in the boreal forest, and picked mints and braided sweetgrass harvested right at the school!

All these hands-on learning experiences allow students to explore their relationship to the Earth and to discover different ways of interacting with nature – some ancient and handed down through generations, some negotiated through modern technology and new thinking modalities, some creative and practical.

A strong personal connection to the nature world builds strong character, encourages pride in one’s culture and place they live, and promotes positive change among youth. With all of the problems afflicting our environment and our communities today, this type of real-world education is giving students an upper hand in meeting the unique challenges their generation will face.

“less pollution let’s work together and find a solution we gotta think

we gotta think together we need more trees we need

harmony like the birds and the bees and the fish in the sea”

- Excerpt from a spoken word poem created by the students