Reflecting on the Winter Land-Based Education Youth Gathering in Split Lake

By Michael Tyas, Videographer and Attendee
I had the privilege of journeying up to Split Lake, Manitoba, to attend the Winter Land-Based Education Youth Gathering in Tataskweyak Cree Nation. Amidst the snow-covered landscape and the warm hospitality of the community, the gathering provided a unique opportunity for students to immerse themselves in Indigenous culture and tradition.
Warm Welcomes:
 There was a wonderful warm welcome extended by the community that made us feel right at home. From cozy accommodations to delicious meals and proper winter gear, their hospitality was truly exceptional.
Hands-On Learning and Close Encounters:
One of the highlights of the gathering was the hands-on experiences offered to the students. I witnessed their excitement as a local trapper brought in fresh furs straight from the bush. Some found the animals cute and cuddly, while others marveled at their inherent wildness. It was a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with creatures that are typically seen from a distance, if at all.
Another memorable event was watching the students try ice net fishing for the first time. Despite the cold and potentially challenging conditions, their enthusiasm knew no bounds. Their eagerness to cast off their gloves and grab the fish with abandon was a testament to the transformative power of experiential learning.
The Importance of Experiential Learning:
As I reflected on the gathering, I couldn’t help but think about the importance of experiential learning for children. Research supports the idea that hands-on experiences foster critical thinking skills, creativity, and emotional intelligence. By engaging with their environment in meaningful ways, children develop a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them, setting the stage for lifelong learning and growth.
Closing Thoughts:
As the Winter Land-Based Education Youth Gathering came to a close, I felt grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a meaningful event. The warmth of the community, the richness of the experiences, and the resilience of the students left a lasting impression on me. I left Split Lake with a renewed appreciation for Indigenous culture and a sense of hope for the future generations.
In conclusion, events like the Winter Land-Based Education Youth Gathering are not just gatherings; they are transformative experiences that shape young minds and connect communities. I look forward to seeing how the lessons learned and memories made during this gathering will continue to ripple outwards, inspiring future generations to embrace their heritage and explore the world around them.

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