Nbisiing Exchange 2017
At 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 8th a bus left Brentwood carrying 11 students and two chaperones. We were headed to the airport. On this trip there were three Brentwood students and eight others from the Cowichan Valley. Along with our two chaperones, Ms. Beausoleil and Darla Smith, we were all very excited to begin our journey to North Bay, Ontario. A two hour delay, however, on our first flight meant that the journey was going to take longer than we expected. We missed our flights due to the delay, and after we spent a night in a hotel in Toronto, we hopped on a flight to North Bay to meet our “twins”, the students from Nbisiing Secondary that we were paired up with.
After being introduced to everyone, we headed to the school to participate in their Winter Carnival. We built sleds out of cardboard, learnt how to bead, and successfully started a fire. After the school day was over, we headed off with the students to spend the night at their houses.
The next day we were welcomed at the Canadian Ecology Center located in Samuel De Champlain Provincial Park for two days and were able to experience many new things. The first day, we learned survival skills such as making a fire with few resources and building a shelter. Later that day we hiked through the snow to reach a site where we were able to howl with the wolves that lived in the park.
The next day we participated in two activities. The first was using GPS tracking devices, which had a range of 20 meters, to locate objects using the satellites. Then it was snowshoeing on a 1.5 kilometer hike in the park. We saw many interesting animal track such as deer, fox, wolves, and turkeys. On our last day we finished carving, sanding, and detailing paddles that we had worked on throughout our stay at the Ecology Center.
When we got back to Nbisiing Secondary that afternoon, we went back to our twins’ houses for the night. In the morning we drove back to the school where we would be staying for the last two days. Once we had set up all of our sleeping bags, we ate a lunch and started planning the meals we were going to make for the local women’s shelter. Six of us went shopping with one of the teachers. We made two kinds of soup and two kinds of dessert. The next morning we took the bus to a local maple sugar farm and got to try different kinds of syrup. When we got back to school we were spoken to by an elder about the calendar and medicine wheel these aboriginal people use. After talking to the elder, we took buckets and tapped maple trees to start making our own syrup that the students from Nbisiing Secondary are going to bring when they come to Brentwood. This was our last night, and when we woke up the next morning none of us were ready to say goodbye, but because we knew we would see them again, we waved goodbye and began our journey home.
We are all so grateful to have had this experience to visit North Bay and learn so much about the aboriginal culture there. We hope that when our twins arrive here in a couple of weeks they also learn a lot and have a positive experience.
Megan A, Alex ‘18, Dana C, Mackenzie ‘18 & Chenoa H, Mackenzie ‘18