Sask Rivers photo Educators learned from Lyndon Linklater at a Professional Development event in Little Red River Park on Friday, Sept. 22. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Educators from the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division recently embarked on an innovative professional development opportunity aimed at enhancing teaching strategies and promoting land-based learning experiences.

This event took place at Little Red River Park on Friday, Sept. 22 and featured a collaborative effort between the school division coaches and Knowledge Keeper Lyndon Linklater, the Indigenous Relations Advisor, and Kim Bird the Indigenous Programs Coordinator at the Remai Modern Gallery.

During the professional development event, teachers not only had the chance to learn the art of Birch Bark Basket creation but also gained a deeper appreciation for the cultural significance of such practices.

As part of SRPSD’s commitment to Truth and Reconciliation, the day focused on fostering a deeper understanding of Indigenous cultures and creating meaningful land-based learning opportunities.

Shea Pilon, the Indigenous Perspective coach for SRPSD contributor of the professional development event, said the goal was to help build knowledge about Indigenous culture.

“We had an exceptional day of experiential learning, and to enhance the significance of the occasion, Lyndon guided us in the creation of Birch Bark baskets,” Pilon said. “This experience added authenticity to our day, enriching our understanding of land-based learning.”

The relationship began when Pilon reached out to the Remai after participating in one of their Birch Bark Basket Making workshops in May. He was impressed with the project, and wanted to bring it to Prince Albert.

“This collaboration signifies the importance of recognizing and respecting Indigenous traditions and knowledge,” he explained. “By embracing land-based learning and cultural awareness, we pave the way for a more inclusive and enriching educational experience for all students.”

As part of this action, the division joined forces with Linklater, who is a recognized expert in traditional Ojibway knowledge. Linklater’s teachings and his traditional knowledge contribution was made possible through support from the Remai Modern Gallery.

In a press release, Sask. Rivers School Division said the collaboration signifies the beginning of an exciting partnership with the gallery. They plan to create more meaningful opportunities for staff and students through the partnership.

“This collaboration between Knowledge Keeper Lyndon Linklater and the Remai Modern Gallery has opened up new avenues for enriching our teaching methods and promoting Indigenous cultural awareness in our classrooms,” Kami Karakochuk, the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division’s Early Learning Coach said in the press release.

“This unique experience exemplifies the school division’s commitment to providing holistic education that encompasses diverse perspectives and encourages cultural competency among both educators and students.”

The division said they want to provide teachers which chances for professional growth and development, and this the basket exercises allow them to do just that. The event also emphasized the significance of connecting students with the natural environment.

By: Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald