December 19, 2002



by Krista Lord

Any worries that Christian Peacemaker Team members are

missing out on educational opportunities while in the

field can quickly be forgotten. CPTers at

Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows in northwest

Ontario) have been standing among students of science,

politics, history, winter sport, and outdoor survival


On December 3 members of this Anishnabek (Ojibway)

community, about 200 miles north of the U.S.-Canada

border, set up a camp on the main logging road. They

began turning away trucks involved in clear-cut

logging being done by Abitibi Consolidated, a paper

producing company, on the community’s traditional


On the same day, the local high school chose the

campsite as the most appropriate location for

learning. With support from teachers and parents, and

full support from the school principal and director of

education, this “outdoor school” has been an integral

piece of the resistance movement building in this


In a little over one week, the community has developed

a major infrastructure on this site, where a logging

camp once resided, giving birth to an educational

institute of the highest quality. Those who arrive at

the site are impressed by what they see: a small piece

of land on which is situated four portable structures

for classes, a tipi, a couple of tents, and two fires

where concerned people gather 24 hours a day.

The importance for the students to learn what their

parents did as children has been given priority over

the increasing pressure from the Ontario government to

teach only its set curriculum. Although temperatures

this time of year can range from -10 to -25 degrees

Celcius or -15 to -25 degrees Fahrenheit, this is a

familiar lifestyle to the Anishnabek.

CPTers watched as students learned ice fishing in a

nearby lake from an elder, followed by a fish fry. One

afternoon, students joined CPTers in creating a CPT

flag. They then went on to erect their own colorful

banners with messages like “Anishnabek Territory” and

“Think Before Cutting Trees.” Throughout the day

students sit by the fire with other community members,

listening attentively and participating in

discussions, as well as exchanging songs with one

another and with visitors from outside of the


The educational value of these interactions is not

quantifiable, but it is certain that students are

experiencing how to be advocates for changes that

would benefit themselves and their community. The

school’s principal has become increasingly excited

about the learning that is taking place. In a

conversation with her, she noted that student

attendance is rising, students are going out less in

the evenings to conserve energy for the next day, and

every day the students in elementary grades have been

begging to join the high school students at the camp.

CPT is maintaining a violence-reduction presence at

the site where logging trucks are being turned away.

Current team members include Chris Brown (San

Francisco, CA), Diana Epp-Fransen (Winnipeg, MB),

Scott Kerr (Downers Grove, IL), Kenton Lobe (Winnipeg,

MB), Krista Lord (Kitchener, ON), and Matt Schaaf

(Winnipeg, MB).

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