ASUBPEESCHOSEEWAGONG (GRASSY NARROWS): School Moves

CPTnet
December 19, 2002
ASUBPEESCHOSEEWAGONG (GRASSY NARROWS): School Moves
Outdoors

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
skills.

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
lands.

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
community.

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
community.

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).