On Sept. 13, 20 students from Valley Gardens Middle school gathered in the sunshine on the dock at the Manitoba Canoe and Kayak Centre, buzzing excitedly as they learned the safe way to get into their canoes.
The students are spending five days taking part in a canoe education program that affirms their Indigenous identity and builds confidence. It's being put on by an Indigenous-led non-profit group called Waterways.
As well as canoeing, they'll be spending time engaging in land-based recreation. Elders and knowledge keepers will be included to increase the cultural and spiritual connection the youth have to their community and land.
The activities they'll take part in over the five days include: a water safety seminar, lots of canoeing, a plant identification nature walk, traditional games, an introduction to dragon boats, a beading/soapstone workshop, an Elder teaching at Nizhoziibean Lodge at The Forks, a talk about Métis history, and finally, a sharing circle.