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Sowing the seeds of culture with new educational project

by ahnationtalk on June 19, 202422 Views

June 19, 2024

With his lunch break barely started, a Grade 5 École François-Buote student grabs a rake and is ready to carry on making a garden bed.

“Can we go back to work now?” he asks Jason MacNeil, who is the programming coordinator for the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation. It turns out that student isn’t the only one, as a steady stream of his classmates come running out of the break area when word spreads that they can resume work in their garden.

Within seconds, the area is bustling with the sound of chatter and rakes moving soil. Orwell Corner Historic Village serves as the backdrop for the interactive program.

“They’ve been this enthusiastic all day,” MacNeil explains. Not even the overcast skies and light showers can dampen their spirit.

It was the first day students got to work on their garden, as part of the Agri-CULTURE Seeds of Change program.

The program, which kicked off last month, is an educational project funded by the federal department of Canadian Heritage’s official languages program.

Students from Mount Stewart Consolidated, L’École François-Buote, and Souris Regional School are collaborating to create three distinct gardens to represent Mi’kmaq, Acadian, and Scottish agricultural heritage.

The program will teach Island students about the agricultural traditions of the Mi’kmaq, French Acadians, and British settlers.

Students will work under the guidance of advisors from the Abegweit First Nation, the Acadian community, and the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation.

“The project started in the classroom,” MacNeil says. “The students started doing research and reaching out to different communities to find out about different traditions of agriculture.”

After the research was complete, they put their newfound knowledge into practice and began making raised garden beds on a piece of land at Orwell Corner Historic Village.  At the end of June, they will return and develop learning programs based around their projects.

“Then next fall, they will come back and teach the students entering Grade 5 that year about their project,” MacNeil explains.

Besides the interactive and fun nature of Agri-CULTURE Seeds of Change, MacNeil says the students are also learning  valuable lessons about the traditions of other cultures.

“It brings all of the traditions to one place where everyone can see it,” he says. “There are layers of history the same way there are layers of inhabitants. We’re obligated to tell the entire history. This place isn’t just a Scottish village. If you’re talking about Island history, you’re talking about the history of immigration, with the exception of Indigenous peoples.”

The language aspect of the program is also an important factor, MacNeil adds. Learning  agricultural terminology and vocabulary in English, French and Mi’kmaq has been an enjoyable experience for the students.

“The interactive learning has been great,” he says. “This type of learning gets ingrained. You learn a lot more when you ‘do’.  And it aligns with the curriculum, so we compliment everything that’s going on in the classrooms.”


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