It is a quick bus ride from A.A. Wright to Bkejwanong. The students spent the ride talking about past fishing experiences, what they were looking forward to, and sorting through their tackle boxes comparing lures and hooks. Once we crossed over the bridge and travelled down the main road it was so meaningful to hear and see students point out where their grandparents lived, where their cousins went to school, where they have played lacrosse or hockey in the past, where their siblings go to day care, and even where their parents work. Hearing those connections and seeing the pride on their faces as they were able to point these things out to their peers was priceless.
Once we arrived at the Bkejwanong Youth Facility (BYF) we were met by Adrian and his two post-secondary summer students. They welcomed us to the BYF, told us all about the activities and programs that are run there, and answered our questions. Many students were excited to learn that they were old enough to take part in the activities offered there. If you are interested in learning more about the Bkejwanong Youth Facility you can check out their website HERE.
After this we divided into two groups to start our morning activities - archery and fishing. At archery Adrian taught us how to properly hold a bow, the best stance to be successful, and the importance of being aware of your surroundings. For some it was their first time trying archery, while others were already familiar and comfortable with the skill. Either way they were all engaged and excited to rotate between the 6 targets set out for us.
After an hour or so our group rotated so it was our turn to take on some fishing. Again, we had some students who were experienced, while others were new to it. The staff were so helpful in showing our kids how to cast and probably untangled more lines in that hour than they have in the rest of their lived combined. For the students, it was a great opportunity to work on patience, calm, and appreciating the landscape around you.
At this point it was time for lunch. We were fortunate enough to have locally catered fry bread tacos. Based on the empty plates and full tummies I think its safe to say the kids all thought it was DELICIOUS.
After lunch we took part in some drumming and dancing with local community members, the Isaac family. They shared with us some of their knowledge surrounding residential schools and the impact they had on Indigenous culture. For example, Cedric explained to us how Pow Wows and drumming were made illegal as a means of suppressing culture. It was important for the students to have this knowledge reinforced.