Medicine walks, harvesting workshops and Dene crafting pack schedule for inclusive on-the-land literacy retreat

STUDENTS WITH THE LITERACY OUTREACH CENTRE (LOC) took their classroom to the land during an inclusive three-day educational retreat hosted by Blachford Lake Lodge, July 3-5.

Funded in part by a grant from the NWT On The Land Collaborative, the hands-on curriculum introduced adult students to local plants and their uses, food-harvesting skills and traditional crafts, while showing respect for the land.

Individuals with intellectual disabilities, visual impairment or mobility challenges participated alongside Inclusion NWT staff and Lodge guides.

“Adult learners got to share their knowledge with their classmates and really ground their learning in the skills that have sustained people here for generations,” said Thomas Gagnon-van Leeuwen, instructor. “Students are excited to share what they learned by writing stories, how-to guides and a local plant guide.”

The trip was a Covid-19-appropriate social-distancing retreat that followed public health guidelines while offering a unique, outdoor-based experience. A second retreat is planned later this month for other clients of Inclusion NWT.

Students at the LOC regularly put their books down to participate in hands-on literacy lessons, such as planting and maintaining a garden, conducting science experiments and exploring the community.

The LOC provides daily morning adult literacy classes and afternoon literacy outreach for families, seniors, and adults. Services are available to those with and without a disability.