Cultural centre focused on land-based learning
- Kaitlynn Nordal | May 19, 2019
On May 15, community members celebrated the opening of Askiy-Kamic.
“[This was] a very big day for Muskeg Lake. We are celebrating the actual land-based building where we can actually take our kids and teach our kids how to live off the land and be with the land,” said Jack Rayne, principal of Kihiw Waciston School. “I don’t see a cultural centre anywhere else that teaches all these land-based educational content. This land-based educational content is so vital to First Nations culture and that identity we’re promoting and giving our children here their education, identity and culture back to them.”
For the last two years the land-based education program at the school was held in the gym behind the school. Roughly a year and a half ago, there were questions of why there was no cultural centre for this specific program.
Principal Rayne spoke with Brad Nickel, who is the Director of Prairie Spirit School Division, as well as the Chief of Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and the principals at Blaine Lake and Leask schools.
After making it a contest to see which school out of the three could come up with the best name, the centre was christened Askiy-Kamic, which is Cree for the ‘house of land learning.’
“It was chosen because we do a lot of land-based education here in the community,” explained Rayne about the centre’s name. “We teach our kids how to live off the land, how to pick medicines off the land, how to do all the land-based stuff that we do here at Kihiw Waciston School.”
The land-based education program will offer participants an opportunity to pick berries, snare rabbits, tan hides, pick medicines, and other activities.
The land chosen was set aside by an older couple from the area, as they wanted children to come and learn off it. This area is called the island since it’s a quiet, peaceful spot surrounded by the muskeg and is a boreal forest where nobody lives. It is used for hunting, trapping, and medicines. Since the land does not have electricity, solar panels will be installed for the centre.
This land has also been used for ceremonies, cultural camps, and cultural teachings in the past.
Gloria Greyeyes, who is the community school coordinator at Kihiw Waciston school, also helped organize the day’s events.
“Whether you are First Nations or not, you need to know how to live off the land because of global warming, we are going to continue having these crises with power and that,” she said.
This is the third year the land-based education program was offered at Kihiw Waciston School.