The entire Grade 8 class took a trip to the Natural Museum of History and the Halifax Public Library on November 8th to enjoy the programme offered to young students on the history and living culture of the Mi’kmaq peoples of Nova Scotia. During their Social Studies curricula, students have been introduced to the meaningful history and culture of indigenous peoples in Canada and other indigenous themes.
Most recently, my sciences humaines class has researched and discussed several relevant and contemporary indigenous issues in Canada such as high rates of incarceration and suicide, as well as education deficiencies for indigenous youth, lack of adequate housing and access to health care and basic human rights such as clean drinking water. Students learned of the history of the chronic marginalization of indigenous peoples in Canada and the recommendations the recent Truth and Reconciliation Committee Report offered in the form of possible solutions to these issues.
During our visit to the museum, students first watched the creation story of Glooscap and discussed the underlying morals it presented and the values held by the Mi’kmaq peoples. Students were then given the task of excavating some items associated with Mi’kmaq culture and discovered their temporal uses and meanings. From here, they took part in a scavenger hunt within the Mi’kmaq exhibits to find items that the Mi’kmaq used in their everyday lives and compared these with items we use in our own lives. This demonstrated that indigenous cultures and non-indigenous cultures often value the same things, yet can be expressed through different means. It is crucial for youth to know just how advanced and complex indigenous cultures, societies, and customs truly were prior to European contact, and indeed remain. Students left the museum with a deeper appreciation of indigenous culture and the meaningful ways by which indigenous peoples live and perceive the world.
While at the public library, students explored each floor on their own and appreciated the uniqueness of this wonderful building. They quickly learned that this marvelous place shatters the traditional role of a library as a space for complete silence and sitting. Whether it was reading a book, playing a video game, enjoying a treat at the café, or hanging out on the outdoor terrace, it was a fantastic day of learning and exploring for all!