Students provided with great land-based learning at fall harvest festival

These children had a great time playing the game x’s and o’s at the Fall Harvest Festival.

SHESHEGWANING—Students of St. Joseph’s Anishinabek School and Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) were provided with some great land-based learning at the first ever fall harvest festival, held at the school in Sheshegwaning First Nation, on October 18.

One of the many highlights was a presentation made by Neil Debassige and representatives of Fuel the Fire T.V. “We’re surrounded by a grocery store around us. Meanwhile, lots of people in Canada and other countries in the world continue to go hungry.”

Mr. Debassige had told The Expositor, “We will be doing a presentation on food sovereignty and where people are in their food system, from producers, harvesters, consumers. And we will also be talking about things like the harvest and harvesting animals, culling techniques, biology and the animal breeding season and many other tools of the trade.”

Robert Beaudin, principal of St. Joseph’s Anishinabek School and director of education for Sheshegwaning explained, “this is the first fall harvest we have held at the school. The whole idea is to provide an opportunity for the students for land-based learning and strategies to improve student learning by experiencing them firsthand.”

“We are an Anishinabek school, and we want to do things that are related to our culture and history,” said Mr. Beaudin. “And we are fortunate to have all the resources available here, such as knowledge keepers. We are also rich in having such a wonderful natural environment with clean water, bush, and air. We have a tremendous opportunity, and we want to take advantage of it.”

“And we are very fortunate to have support of our partners in the community,” said Mr. Beaudin. “The Sheshegwaning Health Department and the Sheshegwaning Band administrative has been very cooperative, supportive and are participating as have other departments within the community in the implementation of this festival.”

“This is also  partnership with our neighbours, Zhiibaahaasing First Nation, whose students attend school here and have been extremely supportive in helping and participating in this event,” said Mr. Beaudin. He also pointed out external partners like Noojmowin Teg Health Centre, Mnaamodzawin Health Services, Odawa Island Fish Farms, Fuel the Fire TV, Kenjgewin Teg, local knowledge keepers and about 50 students from MSS would be attending.

Among the many attendees on hand were drummers from Chi Geezhis drums, who provided a drum display and demonstration, proper fish filleting  demonstrations from Odawa Fish Farm (as well as yummy samples).

Joe Laford, one of several knowledge keepers on hand provided a demonstration  on the proper way of skinning a deer.

There was also a ton of delicious food in the school gymnasium for everyone to sample, from chili and scone, and stew in the school gymnasium.

“On our television show, we try to put people at the centre of their food system,” Mr. Debassige told the students. “This can include the producers, harvesters, distributor, delivery person, to the grocery store, and the consumer.”

Debassige told the students that, unfortunately, ”Canada is number three in the world for food waste.” He had two helpers, Grayson Orford and Liam Lariviere (the latter had harvested the deer using a crossbow, used for the skinning demonstration).

Dave Wiwchar, principal of MSS said, “Diane Debassige had organized about 50 (MSS) students to attend the fall festival today. The students were eager to attend and it was really great for them be here and to learn everything they are doing today.”