What they learned

Sapotaweyak Cree Nation

Water Project

Protection of Canada's northern waters will depend not only on the application of the principles of western science, but also on the application of indigenous science.

Therefore, this project was designed to ensure that participating students had extensive contact with Elders who could provide the necessary balance between science that is traditionally taught in schools, and the science that allowed their people to flourish since the end of the last ice age.

Overall, the project was designed to give the students a basic knowledge of water quality analysis, which began with lessons of why maintaining water quality is important. They learned when and where to take the samples and proper sampling procedures, and how to prepare samples for analysis by accredited laboratories. The project included the purchase of water quality analysis equipment for the school, which the students learned to maintain and calibrate.

Students also learned more about their own community, including where their water treatment plant was and who helped take care of it. By taking tours of the community with the intent to investigate the water, the students saw things about the community they never noticed before.

The project also encouraged the students to practice their communication skills. Many of the lessons were taught in a sharing circle where the students would be expected to contribute their thoughts and feelings in front of their peers, teachers and elders about the issues they were discussing. Students were also expected to communicate, with their communities, strategies that help maintain water quality and to share this knowledge with others.