Learning Story – A Visit From elder larry Jones

Learning Story – A Visit From Elder Larry Jones

The Week of Dec 8, 2023

What Happened?

We began the day with a safety talk to address how to be safe with so many wildlife sightings in the past few weeks. We discussed how we could stick closer together like a wolf pack and work together to stay safe. 

We were very excited to welcome back Larry Jones to the morning circle. Larry gifted us with a dreamcatcher with the seven colours that for Ojibwe people represent : yellow (east), red (south), black (west), white (north), Father Sky (blue), Mother Earth (green) and the self (Centre, purple).  (Larry) “I noted they are different in many groups, and there is no right way, and no wrong way, we strive to include and honour everyone, from all over the world.”

We revisited some of the pictures from last time so that Larry could answer some of the questions the Bushkids had about the images which included many of his relatives, specifically the one of his Uncle Victor Lafferty as a baby in the moss bag.  We were overwhelmed by his generosity when he gifted us the pictures. We will laminate these so that the Bushkids are able to investigate these images further. 

Larry brought several snowshoes to show the Bushkids. He told us stories of his own days racing on snowshoes. He shared a couple videos of an Elder making snowshoes in Alaska because one of the Bushkids had posed a question about the babiche. The first link is a video is about how to split a birch to make snowshoes and the second is about babiche. 

Many of the kids kept returning to an epic game of tag. Some Bushkids headed indoors to sew, finger weave and study the maps. The snow blocks were built into a snow fort. At one point, one Bushkid, decided that the restaurant was a much too wild restaurant, so they took their business elsewhere and opened a competing restaurant. Upon realizing that this Bushkid had moved, the other Bushkids in the restaurant decided to also change location.

Before the end of the day, two Aurora College (AC) students led a storywalk. (Thank you to the NWT Literacy Council for sharing a storysack with us). It was the story entitled ‘The Mitten’ where a young boy loses his mitten and all the animals in the forest proceed to climb into the mitten one after the other. We walked the trail and the Bushkids found the hidden animals and placed them in the pouch (aka the mitten). At the end of the story, the AC students referred back to the previous story Sometimes I Feel Like A Fox, and we remembered and discussed what the different animals represented and how we identified with them. 

We finished the day discussing what we had loved doing at Bushkids that day and planned to have a feast next week for our last session.

Why is it Important?

Many of the Bushkids had questions for Larry last week, which is one reason why he came back. Emergent learning includes following up on those questions and investigating to see if we can find the answer. Relationships will develop with Larry more and more, especially when we show we care by asking thoughtful questions. 

We noticed a lot of teamwork today. When the Bushkids decided to rearrange the site to start up two new restaurants, they worked together sharing ideas, solving problems, and working quickly and efficiently to accomplish the task! When kids are motivated and when they are in charge of their learning and play, they are able to accomplish great things without the external motivation or direction of an educator. 

Next week is our final session and we want to celebrate all that we have learned together over the past 11 weeks. Reflection is such an important part of the teaching and learning process. Educators can critically reflect on their teaching approaches and this can’t be done without hearing the most important perspectives – which come from the Bushkids themselves.

What Does This Mean For Next Time?

There is so much to learn from each other! Both Karen Wright Fraser and Larry Jones have spent a lot of time with many Elders who have taught them important lessons about the Land. We will continue to invite knowledge holders to Bushkids to share their stories and to discuss how to tell our own stories. We have invited the Bushkids to document their own stories of Bushkids, but we are learning that maybe they are telling their stories in their own way and it doesn’t always have to be on paper. 

Many Bushkids were away last week and were not around for the changes made to the camp. There may need to be space to discuss how some of them feel about the changes. We can offer reminders that this space doesn’t belong to us, that it belongs to the Land, and the way we engage with the Land will always be changing and dynamic.

Friday is the last session. We are excited to celebrate together. The Bushkids are welcome to share some food for the feast. If you choose to bring some, please remember that all items must be nut free and it would be great if we had a few gluten free and dairy free options.