NWCC’s Haida Gwaii field school was a success

  • Sep. 14, 2009 5:00 a.m.

Submitted by Ruth Wheadon-The Northwest Community College’s Haida Gwaii Field School ran from May 25 through June 9 of this year.Twelve students and two instructors stayed at Mount Moresby Adventure Camp. The two courses studied were Biology 191: Introduction to Ecology (taught by Dr. Norma Kerby), and Anthropology 205: Archaeology of Northern British Columbia (taught by Sheree Ronaasen). Students earned six university credits in 16 days in an intensive delivery format. Three of the students were from Haida Gwaii, one was from Kamloops and the remaining eight were from Terrace. Students ranged in age from 18 to 67 years old which – combined with the setting of adventure camp and incredible weather – provided a unique learning environment.Barb Wilson, Matriarch of the St’awas Xaaydagaay (Cumshewa clan), travelled to Mount Moresby Adventure Camp and spoke to the students about Haida culture and culturally important plants. Local mentors Gerry Morigeau and Elizabeth Bulbrook were also hired and they worked with the two instructors to locate suitable field sites to meet curriculum goals and objectives. These mentors also contributed their own knowledge and locals insights while supporting students during the delivery of the courses. The course work included studies in intertidal zones; forest succession; coastline and shoreline ecology with an emphasis on bird ecology; forest plots; ethnobotany; restoration and rehabilitation of damaged landscapes and watersheds; aquatic ecology; archaeology; and Haida culture. Students travelled between the adventure camp and the Haida Heritage Centre at Kaay Llnagaay; Tlell; Gray Bay; the Honna River; the Haida Canoe near Juskatla; the village Sites of Hot Springs and Tanu; Mosquito Lake; and the Pallant Creek fish hatchery. This was the first year of the field school’s delivery and it was considered by some students to be a “life changing experience.” NWCC also considered the field school a success and it could not have happened without support from Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, Haida Fisheries and the Pallant Creek Fish Hatchery, Haida Heritage Centre at Kaay Llnagaay, Haida Watchman Program, Moresby Explorers, and the Mount Moresby Adventure Camp.NWCC has already begun planning for next year. We are working on starting the 16 day field school a month later so local high school students can attend. Please contact Ruth Wheadon, NWCC campus manager, at (250) 559-7885 ext. 237 for more information.