Magdalena Kelly, a co-ordinator with Connected North, explains the virtual field trips and cultural exchange program to school trustees at Sk’aadgaa Naay. The Skidegate elementary school was the first B.C. public school to join the now 42 northern schools in the program. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

Virtual field trips, cultural sharing come to Sk’aadgaa Naay

A portal has opened at Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary.

So far this fall, students are using it to meet with polar bear scientists, chat with a pumpkin farmer, and trade Xaayda Kil phrases with other Indigenous language learners.

It’s called Connected North — a new program that uses two-way video conferencing to offer virtual field trips and cultural exchanges.

“It’s a huge network,” says Magdalena Kelly, a Connected North co-ordinator who helps Sk’aadgaa Naay teachers set up the virtual field trips with faraway experts and schools.

Sk’aadgaa Naay was the first B.C. school to join the growing list of 42 northern schools taking part. Other schools include the Ghùch Tlâ Community School in Yukon’s Carcross Tagish First Nation, and the First Nations School of Toronto.

Leighann Roger, the principal and a teacher at Sk’aadgaa Naay, said some events are pre-planned by Connected North, like the meet-up with polar bear scientists in Churchill, Manitoba.

Others come from teachers or the students themselves. Teacher Martin Favreau suggested the Indigenous language exchange, and it was Sk’aadgaa Naay’s Grade 3 class who wanted to chat with a pumpkin farmer ahead of Halloween. Warren McIntyre, an art teacher at Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay, suggested a future session with Haida artist Corey Bulpitt.

Other schools have done cooking classes with Chef David Wolfman, an expert in wild game and Indigenous cuisine, even spoken with an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.

Geared for students in Grades 1 to 8, the service has also been used to hold teacher-training sessions and career fairs. People can connect with the schools so long as they have a laptop and internet connection.

At a video meeting with Magdalene Kelly held during the October school board meeting, two of Haida Gwaii’s newly elected school trustees, Patrick Moores and Roeland Denooij, asked the program’s cost and continuity.

Kelly said between the audio-video system, made by Cisco, and staffing, each school set-up costs about $80,000, and each session is another $100 to $150.

But besides the staff time to help set it up, the program comes at no cost to the school district, thanks to the non-profit charity TakingITGlobal, which runs Connected North, and to sponsors that include Cisco Systems, TELUS, the All Nations Trust, the federal government, several Canadian banks, and others.

Kelly said schools that sign up for Connected North are guaranteed three years of sessions, and several schools have already had it longer.

“As long as the students are getting a lot of value from it, we’ll try to keep it going,” Kelly said.

“Basically, the world is your oyster.”

Haida Gwaii School District

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More calls come in for Cullen’s removal as NDP candidate

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs demand Cullen’s removal. Ellis says, There’s no place in B.C. for racism

BC Liberal Party candidate for the North Coast Roy Jones Jr. will hold virtual face-to-face meetings for North Coast communities on Oct. 18. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
BC Liberal Candidate Roy Jones Jr, will meet constituents virtually

Face to face conversations will be held on Oct. 18 for North Coast communities

Kelly Lynn Whitney has been acclaimed as the successful candidate on Oct. 16, in the Village of Port Clements by Election. Seen in photos Kelly Whitney-Gould is pictured putting finishing touches on “Ms. Gnomer’s Home 4 Wayward Folk.” (Kelly Whitney-Gould/Submitted photo)
Kelly Lynn Whitney acclaimed in By Election

Village of Port Clements By Election success

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Most Read