Students from Kitasoo Community School in Klemtu participated in a cultural exchange program with Ahousaht’s Maaqtusiis Secondary. (Photo courtesy of Marcie Callewaert)

Culture provides authentic means to education for Ahousaht and Klemtu students

Tying lessons into a real-world scenario creates a more significant and community-based classroom


Special to the Westerly

Ahousaht and Klemtu First Nations are working to broaden and strengthen the cultural experiences of their youth by participating in a culture exchange between their Grade 8 classes.

Ahousaht students and staff travelled to Klemtu, on the central B.C. coast, in early May.

Justin Magnuson, who is mixed blood Cree from Kawacatoose Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, is the principal and education director at Kitasoo Community School (KCS) in Klemtu. Magnuson and Kate Drexler, the principal of Maaqtusiis Secondary School (MSS) in Ahousaht, met in September and developed the idea to connect the youth from their two remote communities.

In Klemtu the KCS students hosted a Potlatch and MSS students were able to see how preparations were made and the protocols for a feast event in their Nation. They also went camping and harvested traditional seafoods. These land-based experiential learning opportunities are a chance for “Euro-centric and Indigenous [education] systems to converge,” Magnuson explained.

On May 26, the same students from Klemtu arrived in Tofino where, Drexler says, they were “proudly greeted” at the dock by the Ahousaht class and taken to Cedar Coast Field Station on Vargas Island for a two-night stay. The group hiked to Ahous Bay on the West side of Vargas Island. Along the way, trip leaders talked about medicinal plants, the history of the area and wildlife on the island. The Ahousaht students taught their visitors how to play stealing sticks, a traditional beach game.

Staff from Cedar Coast Field Station also led the group in a marine micro plastic survey. Results are being gathered from multiple sites by the Ucluelet Aquarium. Connections between plastic pollution in the oceans and health of traditional food sources were discussed by the classes to tie into the cultural exchange theme.

For the past three years, Ahousaht has hosted a school feast and potlatch in late May. It is part of the cultural curriculum and students of all ages are involved in the planning, preparations and performances. The students from Klemtu were one of eight schools that attended the event this year. Each visiting school performed a collection of songs and dances from their Nation. Drexler explained that “there is a sense of solidarity when you find people who value what you value.” The cultural exchange and feast were a celebration of those values.

Some of the highlights of the MSS feast this year included: the daycare students performing the Warrior Dance, Kindergarten students performing the Wolfpack Dance and the high school Hahts-hoolth-tla Dance. During the Hahts-hoolth-tla, also called the Hinkeets, the final dancer on the floor was joined by his father, one of the drummers, for a touching finale. Aaron Keitlah, who comes from the Kitlamuxin Family in Ahousaht, is the language and culture programs teacher at MSS, and explained that the school feast is an “opportunity to guide our teaching in language and culture, as well as all curricular areas, in an authentic and meaningful way.”

Tying lessons into a real-world scenario creates a more significant and community-based classroom setting. Keitlah attended both the Klemtu and Ahousaht events for the cultural exchange. He reflected that it was “an honour to have [the visiting schools] choose to spend their time with us here in Ahousaht” during the school feast.

READ MORE: New principals for Maaqtusiis schools

READ MORE:Aboriginal tourism growing in Ahousaht

READ MORE: Ahousaht Fire Department always at the ready

Just Posted

Ahousaht students kick off school year with inspirational field-trip

Maaqtusiis kicks off year with two-night stay at Cedar Coast Field Station on Vargas Island

Surf’s Up event in Tofino offers a wave of positivity for families living with autism

“There’s no other opportunity like this for kids like Rylan.”

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION: Meet the candidates for the Courtenay-Alberni riding

In an effort to inform the Courtenay-Alberni riding constituents, we have supplied… Continue reading

Crew keeps worried mother at bay while rescuing entangled baby humpback near Ucluelet

“These animals are massive, they’re powerful and it really is dangerous.”

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Vancouver Island man bikes through B.C. Interior for mental health, addiction awareness

Vancouver Island Resident Mat Fee is approaching the final phase of his cross-Canada bike journey to raise awareness about addiction recovery.

Police investigate after intoxicated teens clash with security at B.C. fair

18-year-old woman arrested and RCMP looking at possible assault in Victoria-area fall fair incident

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

BC SPCA investigating after three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man accused in Salmon Arm church shooting

Lawyer tells court accused was diagnosed with psychosis hours after his arrest

Most Read