How traditional food can connect students to their futures

Posted On Thursday January 10, 2019
Traditional Foods
The theme of this Inquiry and Innovation funded program was Traditional Foods.

How do food decisions affect our well-being in all areas of our lives? How can traditional methods of subsistence be preserved over time? What can we learn from Indigenous peoples to help us conserve and restore B.C. salmon?

These questions guided Four Directions Secondary School’s inquiry, supported by an Inquiry and Innovation funding grant, during the 2017-2018 school year. Four Directions Teachers Jordan Smith, Courtney Bruin and Courtney Markin, together with their students, provided an overview of the program’s success during the School District #73 School Board meeting on January 14.

Working with the theme of traditional food and the guiding questions, students connected with members of the Secwepemc community throughout the school year. Students explored learning opportunities in foods, science, English, social studies, Aboriginal studies and art through experiential learning opportunities focused on connection to land and place.

Students’ experiences ranged from collaboration with an Elder to build a traditional pit cook at McQueen Lake; participating in a Maker Day to design solutions to challenges facing salmon during spawning; visiting the Dunn Lake fish hatchery; and creating a traditional food website with favorite family recipes.

The Four Directions students also travelled to Vancouver to tour BCIT and to attend a Research in Action Workshop at the Vancouver Aquarium. Students were able to connect traditional foods to the present by visiting First Nations-owned and -operated restaurants. They learned from the restaurateurs how traditional ingredients, cooking methods, and teachings are incorporated into their recipes and businesses.

One answer to preserving traditional methods was the creation and launching of a book about the students’ experiences, Connection to Land and Place: Traditional Foods. The book marked the culmination of their inquiry journey, as students prepared food for family and guests, gathered, and celebrated their learning.

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