Indigenous EnviroSTEM

On Saturday August 17th, 2019, we offered our first Indigenous EnviroSTEM! We combined some of our EnviroSTEM activities with Indigenous knowledge of local plants thanks to partnership with the Nistawoyou Friendship Centre. We were able to host 15 children, 5 youth and 16 adults at the Justin Slade Youth Foundation for this event!

Attendees started out by up-cycling left over cardboard boxes to make their own solar ovens. Using foil to reflect the sun into the box, and black paper and cling wrap to trap the heat, they can use these ovens to cook a variety of treats! The weather was very cloudy so our s’mores didn’t fully cook, but they were still very tasty!

Next, attendees were given some traditional knowledge of plants by Claire from the Friendship Centre. Claire is originally from the Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories, but has lived in this region for a number of years and has become familiar with the local plants and their uses. Participants were able to gain many insights on local plants like pineapple weed (which is a wild chamomile that actually smells like pineapples!), horse hair (the fibers can be used for tea or scrubbing pots!) and wild mustard (the seeds have a strong flavor that can be used for cooking). Some other indigenous plants we saw were Willow, Spruce, Poplar, Birch, Dogwood, Cat tail/Bulrush, and Wild rose.

Participants competed in a scavenger hunt to see who could find the most plants and the top 3 teams won prizes, cool solar kits that they could take home!

Finally, we learned a bit about composting and how we can turn food waste into soil for the environment. Each group was given some ‘red wrigglers’, worms that aren’t native to Canada but are perfect for composting! Using some damp newspaper scraps as bedding for the worms, participants were able to make their own composting bins to take home for their own food waste management!

Overall the event was a success and the participants were able to learn about multiple aspects of STEM related to the environment, as well as some traditional indigenous knowledge! Thank you to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo for making this program possible!

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