Garibaldi Highlands Elementary SD#48 Sea to Sky

School Name: Garibaldi Highlands Elementary

School District: SD#48 Sea to Sky

Inquiry Team Members:Kelly Pettingill: kpettingill@sd48.bc.ca, Elana Barlas: ebarlas@sd48.bc.ca, Amy Iredale: airedale@sd48.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: kpettingill@sd48.bc.ca

Type of Inquiry: AESN (focus on Indigenous learners or Indigenous understandings)

Grade Levels: Primary (K-3)

Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Writing, Science, Social Studies

Focus Addressed: Aboriginal understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation)

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Reconciliation

Scanning: Our school is located on traditional Squamish Nation Territory. Students in my class were not yet familiar with the characteristics of reserve lands and how they came to be. While students were aware of clean water issues in places they had visited like Mexico and England, they had yet to learn about the drinking water conditions on some First Nations reserves here in Canada.

Focus: Our team decided to teach a unit about water this year. We began our unit planning by considering at the Big Idea from the Grade 2 Science Curriculum: Water is essential to all living things, and it cycles through the environment. We decided our learners needed to discover that while water is essential to all living things, not all people in the world have access to clean water, particularly some people living on reservations. We decided that by raising our learners’ awareness of the issue, a sense of empathy may develop, as well as motivation to take action. Our driving question is: How can everyone have access to clean drinking water?

Hunch: Because our learners’ needs are so readily met at the school and in their homes, they may not have to think about what it’s like to not have human needs met. Our learners may also see that some problems are too big for them to do anything about (example: clean water).

New Professional Learning: We will explore our own learning around how to raise student awareness of the local issue of the lack of clean drinking water. We would like to see if the raised awareness leads to increased empathy for others without clean water. Can we instill the famous thoughts of Margaret Mead in our learners’ minds: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”?

Taking Action: Our team taught a unit on the water cycle and water pollution. Students created an aquifer model, created a water filter during S.T.E.M. time, and wrote letters to PM Justin Trudeau about the lack of clean drinking water on several First Nations reserves. We sent our letters to the Prime Minister’s office through an organization called the Council of Canadians. We also posted on Twitter and tagged the PM.

Checking: After our Water unit our students had a clear understanding of the lack of clean drinking water on First Nations reserves. Their letters to the PM were full of compassion and strong words. Students were motivated to continue advocating for clean water.

Reflections/Advice: This inquiry was very worthy of our time. I found that there was a lot to learn for myself about the history of how reservations came to be and why the water conditions are the way they are. In the future I may plan for more instruction around colonialism and treaties before introducing the current situation on reserve lands.

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