Canadian Classrooms to Communities Conference Launches Annual Conferences in BC

Canadian Classrooms to Communities Conference Launches Annual Conferences in BC

The BC Classrooms to Communities Network Society co-hosted the 2018 Canadian Environmental Education Conference at the Ktunaxa Nation’s St. Eugene Mission Resort, a former residential school turned resort and conference centre. With the success of the conference, we are now launching an annual provincial Classrooms to Communities Conference that will take place on the weekend over the provincial PSA professional development day in October each year.

The 2018 conference featured over 100 workshops, sessions, field studies, presentations and outdoor learning opportunities. Keynotes included Ktunaxa Hereditary Chief Sophie Pierre, ʔaq̓am Nasuʔkin (Chief) Joe Pierre, Tewa Indigenous Scholar from New Mexico Dr. Gregory Cajete, BC Minister of Education Rob Fleming, Environmental Education Professor Dr. Rick Kool and Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair and BC Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council Member, Kathryn Teneese. The spotlight also shone on the music of mountain-inspired band Shred Kelly, and Canada’s premiere environmental education musician, Remy Rodden.

Conference volunteer and local educator, Natasha Burgess, reflected, “I heard so many people say that this was one of the best conferences they had ever been to. It was the perfect mix of information, connection, and fun. When I think about what experiential, place-based learning should look like, talk about ‘walking the talk’ with this conference!”

Conference Indigenous Advisor, Michele Sam, shared that “I was pleased with the feedback, the participation and the content offered by various Ktunaxa people who have been practicing place-based learning for as long as we have been here. Together, we took the opportunity to support learning by doing differently, and surely that investment and energy will support these organizations as they move into their everyday work and planning the next conferences.”

ʔaq̓am Nasuʔkin (Chief) Joe Pierre closed the conference reflecting on pop music lyrics “It’s something unpredictable. But in the end it’s right. I hope you had the time of your life.”

Local conference organizers were delighted by the high level of local support from organizations in the Columbia Basin such as College of the Rockies, Wildsight, Columbia Outdoor School, Columbia Basin Trust, Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program, Kootenay Savings Credit Union, Regional District of East Kootenay, City of Kimberley, St. Eugene Mission Resort, Kootenay Kwik Print and Kicking Horse Coffee. All school districts in the local region were partners in hosting this conference.

Feedback from the 2018 Classrooms to Communities Conference: 

“I can honestly say that I have never been to a conference that in any way stacks up against the incredible event that you pulled off – it was an incredibly powerful and inspiring few days”.  – Participant
 
“I heard so many people say that this was one of the best conferences they had ever been to. It was the perfect mix of information, connection, and fun. When I think about what experiential, place-based learning should look like, talk about ‘walking the talk’ with this conference!” – Volunteer
 
“I struggle to describe to people how magical, transformative, challenging, beautiful, emotional and inspiring it was. Prior to the Classrooms to Communities Conference, I have never previously attended an event where indigenous people and culture were so interwoven.  It was so much more than indigenous strands, content, speakers but so much more authentic. This feels foreign to me and I don’t know how to start but am willing to learn”. – Participant

BC’s Minister of Education Rob Fleming voicing his support for environmental education and place-based learning as being a key piece of BC’s redesigned curriculum
ʔaq̓am Nasuʔkin (Chief) Joe Pierre taking the time to greet each of the 300 conference participants at the Opening Circle
Keynotes were greeted by a packed house with 300 educators across Canada participating
 Participants enjoyed over 100 sessions and workshops on outdoor and environmental learning
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