While the safety precautions of COVID-19 may have hindered the celebrations for the annual salmon festival in the Columbia Valley, children attending the Little Badgers Early Learning Program will be learning about the species for the month.

During September’s curriculum at preschool, there will be songs, stories and art projects incorporated into the learning curriculum for children to learn about the life cycle of salmon — a recurring theme that takes place annually.

“Salmon played a large role in the history of Ktunaxa culture,” explained Evelyn Walker, Early Childhood Educator at Little Badgers Early Learning Program. “We try to incorporate as much Indigenous studies as possible in our curriculum.”

The theme will be shared with students at an appropriate age level with children from each classroom this fall.

“We are very thankful for those who collaborated to produce the book “Swaqmu’s Tale,” including Lisa Ede, Kathleen Elphick, Maxine Hawe, Lillian Rose, Kurt Reichel and Dorothy Alpine,” said Walker. “As well as the Ktunaxa elders who have been so willing to share their culture with the Little Badger students. We are looking forward to a great year at Little Badgers Early Learning Program.”

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted the program participants from taking local field trips and logistics, so the lessons have been refocused through the use of book learning and developmentally beneficial activities for children.

Preschoolers were welcomed back to school officially on Sept. 15 and visited with an elder.

“Little Badgers enrollment has increased from the summer,” explained Walker. “We have been flexible in programming and will only have one preschool class running (this year) instead of two like last year. A lot of families have communicated that due to COVID-19, they are waiting until spring or fall 2021 to return to care.”

This fall, the Little Badgers team encourages families to visit local waterways to see the salmon spawning to mitigate the loss of important lessons that would have been reinforced through the Salmon Festival.