Grafton students connect to the Arctic
Grade 7 students at Grafton Public School took part in a Connect North video conferencing project Wednesday morning with fellows student and officials from Iqaluit, Toronto and Ottawa. It included a traditional lighting ceremony with Inuit Elders. The connection was made possible by the non-profit organization CISCO and Vroc which has allowed education opportunities like this to piggy back on the scientific research connection that has been established. Local students who asked questions about the ceremony (facing the camera L to R) are Emerson Kelly, Harley Everden and Gracie Matser. (Back L to R) Librarian and teacher Sherrie Greig and grade 7 teacher Laurie Kerr. Read more in Friday's newspaper about Grafton's link with the Arctic.
Grade 7 students at Grafton Public School took part, via videoconferencing, in a traditional Inuit lighting ceremony Wednesday.
Before an Elder lit the lantern, local students were able to ask fellow students in Iqaluit, Nunavut questions about the special event, and watch them provide the answers. Students in Toronto and Ottawa also took part.
Emerson Kelly wanted to know how long the light would remain lit. Gracie Matser inquired whether it could be lit out of doors, and Harley Everden asked if anyone could light it.
As the video feed on a large screen in their classroom showed all of the people in various locations who were participating, the Grafton Public School students were told that usually the lantern, made of soapstone or bone and filled with whale, seal or caribou fat, burned all night, providing warmth. Most often it is lit inside a building, tent or igloo, and while anyone can light it, generally an Elder or grandparent does this.
This link between students in the Arctic and Southern Ontario is part of a pilot project between the Government of Nunavut, Cisco Systems Canada, SSI Micro and Partners in Research Virtual Research On Call (Vroc) in which Grafton Public School teachers Laurie Kerr and Sherrie Greig are pleased to be participating.
Greig has travelled to the Arctic and through a connection with a Brighton teacher who has done the same, this link was forged.
Starting last fall, the two classes have been chatting about every two weeks and learning each other's culture and way of life. The projects they have undertaken include discussions around residential schools, the study of a true novel written by an Inuit author, Arctic winter games, and soon they will be looking at the environment, Kerr said in an interview.
The students were excited, waiting for the ceremony to begin. A couple of times the camera panned out a window to show snow, a rural-looking road and a telephone line outside the school. There was about the same amount of snow as in the more rural, northern parts of Northumberland at this time.
Officials taking part in the videoconference talked about this unique link and what it means to education. The program was three years in the making and Cisco has been funding it for six months, participants were told.
An Oshawa school has also taken part in this way of bringing experts into the classroom, according to the Partners in Research website, though one speaker on Wednesday called this the first-ever Canada / Inuit project of its kind.
This technological partnership is a way that people around the world, who could never meet in person, can connect, Greig told the students in Grafton.
The Iqualuit teacher they have worked with is Marc Robinson and his class has about 26 students compared to the 28 students in Kerr's class. Greig is also the school's librarian.