By Breanne Massey
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

After walking the floor, Edgewater Elementary School (EES) principal Darryl Turner made eye contact with an unexpected visitor through a classroom window this winter.

Along the edge of the retaining wall that surrounds the playground in the front of the primary school, a bobcat made a special cameo and locked eyes with Turner.

“I walked by the Grade 5 / 6 room and did a double-take,” he explained about the recent encounter with the wildlife surrounding the school. “I asked the students and the teacher to come and look. In hindsight, I wish I would’ve got my phone out to take a picture.”

The bobcat walked along the retaining wall, looked up and the kids and jumped down before quickly disappearing.

“It kind of reminds us about where we are,” explained Turner, noting that it’s typical to see elk, deer, eagles, chickadees, woodpeckers and occasionally bears in the Edgewater area. “It’s kind of wild.”

“It was life changing,” said Heather Tegart, EES Grade 5 / 6 teacher about the class’ once in a lifetime encounter.

With a deep respect for the lands, the plants and the animals that surround us through the Indigenous worldview, which recognizes and values all living spirits through a circular connection, the students who witnessed the encounter found themselves searching for Debra Murray.

Murray, one of the dedicated Aboriginal Education Support Worker serving Indigenous students at EES, was quickly asked for help to interpret the meaning of such an encounter.

“The kids were like, ‘Mrs. Murray, Mrs, Murray, what does it mean?’” she explained, noting the Grade 5 / 6 students have known her from Kindergarten to present day where each individual has spent time studying the lands and the animals of the area. “It was a blessing.”

After the sighting, which took place in early-January, the snow began to fly and the Grade 2 students went outside to play and found feathers and footprints outside of the school.

“I think the feathers were probably from a wild turkey,” explained Murray. “Bobcats typically pluck out the feathers and drag the carcasses (of wild birds).”

Turner went outside to examine the feathers and the footprints after the students reported the find.

“When it snows over the weekend, it’s good pickin’ for him,” said Murray, noting that with the exception of this encounter, the bobcat is typically not around during the school days. “Frankly, I think the bobcat was just as surprised as the kids.”

However, the bobcat has not been spotted at EES since the encounter and the administration is monitoring the situation closely.