Students from Banff, Exshaw learn about Stoney Nakoda traditions

Children at two Alberta schools are coming together to learn about Stoney Nakoda traditions.

Elders help children learn about First Nations culture

Children at two Alberta schools are coming together to learn about Stoney Nakoda traditions.

Elder Roland Rollinmud is one of many elders teaching Stoney Nakoda traditions to students at Exshaw School, which is mostly made up of kids from the First Nation.

Once a month, they meet up with Grade 3 students from Banff Elementary School, who are mostly non-aboriginal.

Earlier this week, Rollinmud taught a lesson on survival to the students from both schools, who gathered around him on his trapline in the Kananaskis.

Rollinmud was taught about his culture until he was sent off to residential school when he was a child. Now he wants to promote a better understanding between cultures and show how his traditions can still relevant today.

One thing he showed the children was how to trap a beaver. "Those kinds of experiences of knowledge, that's a PhD to me," he said.

First Nations people are not consulted about natural disasters, such as floods, to give input on why it may have happened, or on how to prevent the natural disaster in the future, he said.

 "We communicate with nature and that's the best thing that we have from the education perspective," he said.

Kids discover commonalities

The trips are meant to break down stereotypes while building friendships among Grade 3 students at both schools.

"When we first started this program, were on two separate sides of the rooms. They didn't think they had anything in common and it was tricky to begin with," said Carla Pauls, a counsellor with Exshaw Elementary.

"We had one of the little guys ask … in a very beautiful way, what it was like to live in a teepee and how they could get to school on their horse. And it was very innocent and very real. That was what he knew about First Nation people in reserves and so just this incredible opening up of an opportunity to explain."

She says the children are finding they have more in common than they thought.

"Fieldtrips! We all enjoy fieldtrips!" said Banff Elementary School student Alice Whittingham.