On Friday, April 22, 2016, students from our Board’s International Student Program, along with students who are new residents of Canada, visited the Crawford Lake Conservation Area on their P.A. Day. Located in Milton, Ontario, Crawford Lake has been referred to as a “time capsule of natural and cultural history”.
The students started off their tour with taste sampling of homemade cornbread and freshly made pure maple syrup.
After eating their treats, students were led around the expansive conservation area by informative and engaging tour guides. Students toured the historic 15th Century Iroquoian village. The village is a reconstruction of where pre-contact First Nations clans actually lived. It features three longhouses that have been reconstructed on the exact footprints of the original 15th Century longhouses. While students explored the Turtle Clan Longhouse, they were taught about the lives of the people who lived there 600 years ago. They were also able to touch replicas of beaver fur blankets, elk antlers, cooking and storage items, and various other tools.
Students had the opportunity to participate in a First Nations Smudging Ceremony. During the Smudging Ceremony, students were gathered in a circle, sitting on tree stumps. Students who wanted to fully participate wafted sage smoke over themselves, with the purpose of cleansing and removing negative energy. The tour guide Steve Paquette, of the Ojibway, patiently explained the teachings passed down to him from Elders within his community, and tied in similarities with the social teachings of our Catholic Church. Many connections were made with his brothers and sisters of South America and Indigenous Peoples of Asia. Steve explained that, together, peoples around the world can work more efficiently and lovingly when working in a cooperative and inclusive way.
The Crawford Lake Conservation Area is also home to a variety of peaceful nature trails, including the Hide & Seek Trail. The Hide & Seek Trail features massive wooden carvings of different species at risk in Ontario, Canada. Including the Monarch Butterfly, Snapping Turtle, and the Eastern Wolf. Students were taught about the importance of protecting Canada’s indigenous species and surrounding eco-systems while enjoying a hike with tour guide Tom, a retired principal and science teacher of the Toronto District School Board.
Students were treated to a delicious catered lunch, and were given time to explore the conservation area on their own. To learn more about the Crawford Lake Conservation Area, please visit their website.
Check out some photos from the trip below!
Check out a video of Steve Paquette answering student questions!