“First, we needed to imagine what our school groups experience could look like.” says Matt. “We’ve been discussing every detail, from the moment they arrive by water taxi on Monday morning right through to the time they leave on Friday. This minute-by-minute experience, guided by a spirit of fun and memory-making, inspired the modules we’re designing in the curriculum.”
The program, initially targeting students in grades 5-7, includes on-the-land learning. According to K’odi, kids will learn Kwak’wala words for the beach, sea flora and fauna, while digging clams or roots for medicines, and harvesting berries. “Camp life, like collecting wood, starting fires, and fun activities like singing, dancing, creating art, hiking, paddling, rock climbing, maybe a ropes course in the future. Family structures like brothers, sisters, and spiritual connections – giving thanks to the cedar tree for its bark, the first salmon we catch – these are all opportunities for learning and making great memories. We know that kids learn better when they’re doing and experiencing, rather than just from a book, or in a traditional classroom setting.”
The team is also exploring ways to continue the learning in a game-based setting. Unboxals Creative Studios, founded by three former Disney executives responsible for delivering the film Moana and many other animated franchises, have learned about Nawalakw and are keen to collaborate.
So What’s Next?
“We have big plans, and SO many ideas.” says K’odi with a laugh. “We also have an unbelievable network of people who are blessing us, helping us bring this vision to life.
We know we need to keep moving quickly and keep focussed. Our dream is to start programming for preschool ages, all the way through offering accredited teaching certificates so our kids can teach more kids and so on.”
Following completion of the camp facilities, pilot programs will run in the spring and summer of 2021, where we will test and refine camp programming with our clients (band schools, School District 85, and First Nations Health Authority) under Covid-19 constraints. Ideally, we’ll be fully launched in the fall. And of course, we’ll be busy fundraising and planning for the next phase of the project, to bring sustaining revenue that can help fund the language revitalization program.