Classroom on Otonabee: Part 1

BY AUSTIN SMALL

On Tuesday October 6th, 2015, at 6:30 am a group of 30, excited yet gravely exhausted, grade 11s and 12s boarded a bus headed to Peterborough along with Mr. Jones, Mr. Walker, Mrs. Macintyre, Ms Gleeson, Mr. Pearce, and Mr. Caughlin.

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A wonderful sunset view from our luxury coach bus.

After a 3 hour bus ride and a singalong to “Don’t Stop Believing” they finally arrived at the Canadian Canoe Museum, their first stop of many on a three day journey. After a quick tour the group split in half, some doing a reenactment of the canoe treaties negotiations and signing. The others? They got to go canoeing down the Otonabee river and through the tallest hydraulic lift lock in the world.

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A perfect fall day for canoeing.

After a quick lunch there was a flip flop type style switch.

Though, what about the kids who couldn’t go on the canoe because of some sort of swimming related issues? Well, they learned about soapstone sculptures and make one themselves, such as an elephant. There were three rules: make something that represents themselves, make something other than a bear or a mouse, and … don’t eat the soapstone powder.

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An elephant soapstone sculpture. 

After a long day of activities, it was back in the bus these students went. Destination? The Peterborough Waterside Holiday Inn, in which they’d be sleeping in for the next two nights. Arriving at 3:30 the voyagers had 2 hours and 30 minutes to check in, get settled, prepare for a formal dinner, and call any concerned parents.

Fast forward to dinner, students were joined by Anishinaabe siblings Jan Beaver, and Rick Beaver. We started the meal by saying miigwetch (thank you) for all we have in our lives, especially the food we eat, the air we breathe and Mother Earth for giving us all of it. After a lovely supper of chicken, vegetables, pasta, salad, potatoes and a cup of tea to finish it off, everyone gathered in a circle to learn about the Anishinaabe culture from the special guests.

First off was Jan. A cool thing she explained was the difference between her English name (Jan Beaver), and her Anishinaabe name (was not asked for because of cultural respect and sacredness of it). These two names have very different meanings. Jan Beaver is what you would use when referring to Jane. You would not use her real name because it is for her, her close family, the people who gave her said name and her ancestors. As well, we learned about the different uses for the medicine wheel, like for the stages of life, or the season.

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A group of students with Jan Beaver after dinner.

Next it was time for Rick Beaver to take the reigns. He explained how everything is connected and how spirituality is much like the carbon in our air. It’s everywhere, and can pass through anything. Jan then took the stage once more to close off dinner with an incredible song called “The Rock Song”

The night was finished with some swimming, or for some, late night pizza and two rounds of pool. Everyone went to bed excited for the events to come!

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