By Julia Magsombol
Local Journalism Initiative
People say that knowledge is power, but it can also tell you the truth — and that’s what Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network (CBEEN) offers: the truth about Indigenous reconciliation.
CBEEN had a successful “Four Seasons of Reconciliation,” a learning challenge and experience of Indigenous knowledge and perspective that ran for months. It started October 2022 and will end this June.
“Almost 4,000 people participated in the first year. It was crazy,” said Duncan Whittick, the Executive Director of CBEEN. “But it was also exciting.”
Jenna Jasek, the District Vice-Principal for Indigenous Learning and Equity, said she “wanted to provide a platform” for people to “share their stories” when she and Whittick decided to make this learning experience.
Whittick and Jasek have been working together since 2018. Their work aims to encourage and empower people, including themselves, to “truth and reconciliation.” Thus, the Four Seasons of Reconciliation was created.
“We have lots of meetings. We always have ideas. Whittick brings them to fruition, and it just grows from there,” Jasek explained.
Whittick and Jasek did a tryout on this learning last year, and it was successful.
The learning is a partnership with Rocky Mountain School District 6, the First Nations University of Canada, and Reconciliation Education.
Whittick said that people who register in this learning experience can learn more about the history, treaties, and what Indigenous peoples have gone through.
He believes that a day is not enough to learn these things, but it “needs to be a continuous learning,” which is why the lesson ran for months.
During the learning process, participants need to complete an online module. They also have the opportunity to gather virtually with Indigenous leaders to learn more about truth and reconciliation. This runs for an hour a month, and at the end of the course, a certification of completion from the First Nations University of Canada will be offered.
The module contains different lectures on colonial history, racism, treaties, residential schools, reconciliation, restitution, and more. Participants need to work on this module for 20 to 30 minutes per month.
Jasek explained that she’s trying to get back the culture that was taken away from her, a culture that she didn’t get to learn. She hopes to “grow more opportunities to learn about Indigenous ways of knowing and being.”
“We all have our own stories, and they all need to be honoured and respected,” Jasek said.
Through all of this, Whittick and Jasek feel validation. They said there was so much positive feedback from people, which shows that what they’re doing is a must for the community.
Whittick described this learning as “life-long.” He believes that to truly move towards truth and reconciliation, through this course, people need to “be inspired and empowered, and make this [learning] part of their lives.”
Registration for the 2023-2024 learning experience is now open. For more information, visit https://outdoorlearningstore.com/4-seasons/
To read about past learning experiences, visit https://cbeen.ca/every-child-matters-learning-challenge/