Reconnecting to the land
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/05/2019 (1418 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Seven Oaks School Division’s Ozhaawashkwaa Animikii-Bineshi Aki Onji Kinimaagae’ Inun (Blue Thunderbird Land-Based Teachings Learning Centre) wants to reconnect people with the land and saving local plants.
Since SOSD started developing its new outdoor learning centre, the learning centre’s program coordinator Alexis Nazeravich has found 40 species of Indigenous plants in the right of way of the ditch within the property. With the help of an ecologist colleague, they determined the amount was significant enough to call it a remnant prairie.
“There’s less than one-20th of our tallgrass prairie remaining in Manitoba. It’s one of the most endangered, and we hardly recognize that as Manitobans. It’s so not apparent to us that we don’t realize that it was once here,” Nazeravich said. “In shorter than 20 years, we lost almost the whole thing. But when you see those species exist somewhere, it’s quite remarkable, because how did they stay when there was almost every opportunity for them also to disappear?”
Her finding opened up the discussion on land stewardship and influenced the division to shape land stewardship around the restoration. They are working on a prairie restoration and conservation project and are growing 30 acres of crops of the 40 species.
“It’s what was always here. We are putting it back, the tall grass prairie species that evolved here over the last, say, 10,000 years,” she said. “We have the opportunity to conserve these species, both for their ecological value, their cultural and historical value, as well as for the esthetics.
“It becomes an amazing way of teaching our history and our ecology, become an amazing hands-on conservation effort, connects our students to Indigenous plants of Manitoba and the tall grass prairie, also allows us to have seed available for any restoration that we have. These are local eco types. These are plants that evolved here, and that seed is rare,” Nazeravich explained.
Another component of the project is the re-vegetation of a water retention pond as a responsible way to keep water and drain water. Stormwater is collected at a central pond and naturalized with indigenous wetland species, which the pond is contoured appropriately to host and grow.
The indigenous grasses will stabilize the banks, add diversity and filter the water before it exits the land into the Grassmere drain which travels to the Red River, which goes to Lake Winnipeg.
The learning centre received a $100,000 grant from the province’s Conservation Trust that will be added to other funding to support the restoration and revegetation of the pond.
Creating a habitat and drawing wildlife are also benefits of the project, allowing students to develop an even more significant connection to the land.
“We wanted to create a meaningful place where connecting to the land happens, where all of our classroom learning happens out here in the land. We are talking about a school division that’s largely within the city limits,” she continued.
“Not every student has the opportunity to go to a lake or cabin, or forest area, and where we are in this day and age, we know that we are developing disconnects, both between each other as people and between ourselves and our land. We are struggling to feel that we are a part of the land. We see ourselves as separate, and certainly, we aren’t doing enough to stay connected.”