Community Feature May 10, 2024

Integrating Land-Based Education into the Curriculum: A Collaborative Effort in Lac Seul First Nation

In Lac Seul First Nation, Assistant Director of Education Kristin Ward and her team are spearheading an initiative to integrate Land-based education into their curriculum. Under Kristin’s leadership, three Gakino’amaage educators from Frenchman’s Head’s Obishikokaang Elementary School, Waninitawingaang Memorial School in Kejick Bay, and Morris Thomas Memorial Christian School in Whitefish Bay are revolutionizing outdoor education for students throughout their communities.


Acknowledging the profound significance of outdoor education and the necessity for structured integration, Kristin and her team embarked on a collaborative journey to develop an extensive Land-based education curriculum. This initiative unites classroom teachers and outdoor education specialists, including Gakino’amaage alumni Christina Petrie, Greg Hattle, and Alysha Kooter, as they work together to create a seasonal curriculum aligned with provincial standards.


Recognizing the value of outdoor education but acknowledging the need for structured integration, Kristin and her team embarked on a journey to develop a comprehensive Land-based education curriculum to serve all three schools.


Greg Hattle (left) and Alysha Kooter (right) are two Gakino’amaage teachers helping to develop Lac Seul’s outdoor education curriculum.


Their approach involves creating strands that seamlessly integrate Land-based content with traditional curriculum subjects. For instance, in the Fall, students explore wildlife identification, hunting, and tracking, which aligns with themes of animal science and the needs and characteristics of living things. As the seasons progress, the curriculum evolves to cover topics such as wild rice harvesting, plant biology, trapping, and hunting, all while connecting to various science and geography standards. By involving both classroom teachers and outdoor education specialists, they ensure that the curriculum is comprehensive and accessible to all educators.


A key aspect of their work is to ensure consistent access to Land-based education for all students. Currently, two outdoor education teachers, Weslie Wabano and Daniel Bottle, rotate between schools to teach students. However, the goal is to make outdoor education a regularly occurring subject, complete with dedicated teachers and consistent opportunities for students to engage with the land throughout the year.


Students in Lac Seul enjoy time out on the land.


The impact of this initiative goes beyond academics. It aligns with the board’s improvement plan, emphasizing the importance of connecting students with their land and identity. By integrating Land-based education into the curriculum, Kristin and her team are providing students with academic knowledge intentionally woven into their culture, history, and relationship with the land.


Ultimately, Kristin emphasizes that she is proud of the collaborative nature of this initiative, driven by a team of dedicated educators and outdoor education specialists. With their shared expertise and passion, they are reshaping education in Lac Seul First Nation, providing students with enriching experiences that honour their heritage while equipping them for the future.


Kristin Ward (centre) smiles with two members of the Lac Seul Education Authority (left) and Gakino’amaage educators Greg and Ruby (right) at the 2023 Summer Enrichment Program Meet the Teacher Day in Thunder Bay, Ontario.


Gakino’amaage proudly celebrates this groundbreaking collaboration, bringing three alumni from neighbouring communities together to increase their students’ access to Land-based education. This initiative exemplifies our dedication to fostering meaningful connections and supporting First Nations student success while upholding Indigenous control of Indigenous education.


Are you a Canadian-certified teacher inspired by this story? Learn more and apply to Go North with Gakino’amaage today.