Phoenix School has embarked on an Indigenous study of water for all the students, Kindergarten to Grade 5 with a special emphasis on the 3 intermediate classes for the 2017-18 school year. The three home room teachers and the divisional Indigenous educator have partnered to develop a year-long study on the commodity of water.
The units have included an introduction to the land, to water and to water conservation. The students and the four teachers have explored various aspects of water including the emotional bond that all people have with water. The students have learned about boiled water alerts and have examined the various communities within Manitoba that do not have safe drinking water.
The Indigenous educator talked about her own personal water walk and about the water issues relating to Grassy Narrows and flooding for Indigenous communities.
Currently the students are exploring appropriate strategies for advocating for safe drinking water in the province and they are embarking on a persuasive letter writing campaign to the Minister of Water Stewardship.
There are also special presentations planned from the education division of Lake Winnipeg Foundation, a mini field trip to the river for an Indigenous Freezing Ceremony (already held in the fall) and an upcoming mini field trip for an Indigenous Thawing Ceremony. Currently, a presentation by an Elder is being explored.
The entire school is also studying the concept of water. Water is important to all life and this is integrated into the social studies and science units and the social justice studies across all grade levels.
Michael Many Eagles, an Indigenous soap stoner carver, worked with all the students on soap stone carving and during all the presentations presented Indigenous Water Stories. It was a valuable learning experience for everyone.
The study of water has been an important and enriching experience for everyone, students and staff.