A new First Nation school program is immersing kids in traditional food preparation.
Students at Elijah Smith Elementary School in Whitehorse learned to fillet fish and make dry meat this week during a “mini salmon camp.”
It’s part of teaching Yukon First Nation culture and inclusion in public education through the Yukon First Nation Education Directorate.
Rebecca Bradford-Andrew, team lead for the directorate’s education advocates, says they wanted to give kids an authentic traditional experience.
“The goal is for the kids to be able to have the experience of seeing what it would be like to do a traditional salmon camp,” said Bradford-Andrew.
They also made bannock, and kids were able to take some smoked salmon home with them.
“The idea is that they all get an opportunity to eat some traditional foods … it’s just a chance to introduce them to their traditional foods and for us to be able to deliver that.”
The 12 education advocates were hired about four months ago, and have been training with the goal of providing “much-needed cultural support for cultural inclusion” in schools, Bradford-Andrew said.
The pandemic has complicated bringing the programming into schools, but she said being able to deliver cultural programs is important.
“Any child, I think, that lives in the North, in the northern communities, needs to understand our history and our ways of knowing and doing,” Bradford-Andrew said.
They plan to bring the camp into other schools while working within COVID-19-related regulations and guidelines.
“I think kids all need to know where they came from. And their sense of cultural identity is deeply rooted in both the land and the language.”