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A Day at T’elemia

For many students, heading back to school means desks, homework, linoleum tile and no. 2 pencils. But the September issue of chickaDEE Magazine shares a different back-to-school story! Neizha Snider attends Deh Gáh School in the Northwest Territories and the first month of her school year takes place at an outdoor camp, where she and her classmates learn to respect nature, especially lakes and rivers. Read Neizha’s account of a day at T’elemia below, and check out the new issue of chickaDEE for more back-to-school fun.

Written by Neizha Snider

My name is Neizha Snider and I’m 9 years old. I’m a student at Deh Gáh Elementary and Secondary School in Fort Providence, NT. Every August, the grade 2-3 class begins the school year at T’elemia, an outdoor camp where we learn about traditional life for the Dene people: preparing fish, collecting berries, making dry meat and camp safety.

© Deh Gáh Elementary and Secondary School

© Deh Gáh Elementary and Secondary School

Here’s what a day is like for my class:

Every morning, we take a motorboat 5 km down the Deh Cho (Mackenzie River) to T’elemia. We start with a healthy breakfast to get ready for all our morning activities. We gather in a circle and practice our local language, Dene Zhahti. Then we start physical education where we play traditional games to help us build our strength and endurance. We also take a nature walk along the shore. A big part of being at this camp is learning to respect nature, especially the lakes and rivers. The Deh Cho, which means “Big River” in Dene, is a very important river because it connects us to other communities and is also a source of food, like fish.

© Deh Gáh Elementary and Secondary School

Phys ed Class © Deh Gáh Elementary and Secondary School

Neizha on a nature walk with classmates © Deh Gáh Elementary and Secondary School

Neizha on a nature walk with classmates © Deh Gáh Elementary and Secondary School

Our science lessons are right in nature, too. We learn about fish and how to prepare them. My favourite part is catching and scaling the fish. We talk about the different parts of the fish and what they are good for. Then we learn how to dry the fish, which is important because it gives us food for the long winter! We also learn about the medicinal properties of plants as well as which ones are edible. I enjoy collecting rose hips and drying them out to make tea. They are filled with vitamin C! For math, we estimate how many high bush cranberries we’ve picked and how many we’ve eaten. After four weeks at T’elemia, we go back to our regular classes at school. It’s a great experience!

WWF’s Schools for a Living Planet connects educators and students of all ages to WWF’s conservation work. Join the S4LP community and learn how you can inspire your classrooms and classmates to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.