May 18, 2017, Corner Brook—This week, staff at the Outdoor Education Program in Gros Morne National Park welcomed its first groups of grade five students, their teachers and parent chaperones for the 2017 school year. The two-and-a-half-day, camp-based program, now in its 20th year, is an educational experience that meets
classroom curriculum requirements, while students benefit from immersion in the great outdoors.
Qalipu has been involved in the Outdoor Education Program since 2014 through the delivery of a cultural teaching module, and last year took on the enhanced role of coordinating the program in partnership with the Western Newfoundland and Labrador English School District and Parks Canada.
Ralph Eldridge, Director of Service Qalipu, said, “The program was a natural fit for Qalipu as it aligns with our mandate to engage youth in learning opportunities. The fact that it takes place in an outdoor setting helps to engrain a sense of importance of our natural world. It goes beyond the classroom, beyond the text book.”
Eldridge noted that the program is structured around seven modules that have children engaged in activities such as an archaeology dig, a night hike, painting, poetry writing, and exploration and appreciation of our natural environment. Each of the modules corresponds with grade 5 curriculum outcomes.
Michelle Matthews, Education Outreach Officer, hired by the Band to facilitate the program, works with children and teachers on the ground at Killdevil. She said, “while helping to coordinate this program, Qalipu will also continue to deliver one of the modules, Epsisi’tat Awia’tat (Little Feet Travelling in a Circle). The focus of the culturally based module centers on sustainability, history of the aboriginal people in Newfoundland and Labrador, and how the Mi’kmaq relied on mother earth to provide for the necessities of life. We will also continue to provide unique cultural experiences to students through participation in such things as talking circles, drumming and singing.
Future goals for the program include ensuring sustainability for generations to come, providing opportunities for schools in the central region to participate in the Killdevil program or offering a parallel program in that region, and integrating greater cultural content within the existing teaching modules.
For more information on getting your classroom involved in this opportunity, please contact Education Outreach Officer Michelle Matthews at 634-3856 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org