Experience Superior North

Experience Superior North

Experience Superior North (ESN) is a rich learning opportunity that integrates Indigenous education through both face to face and technology based collaboration among three school boards. The Ontario Ministry of Education Creating Pathways to Success Document is a guiding document to the focus and goals of the initiative. Through the creation of partnerships, Superior North Catholic District School Board has hosted and facilitated a week long face to face experience in the North for two consecutive years that were preceded by video conference sessions to begin the formation of relationships. Superior North Catholic District School Board hopes to expand the program for the 2017/2018 school year. Toronto Catholic District School Board has participated in both annual events and Crescent School was thrilled to take part this year and looks forward to participating in future ESN events.

The May 15 - 20, 2017 event was hosted in the communities of Geraldton, Nakina, Aroland, Nipigon and Thunder Bay and involved 5 schools with the Superior North Catholic District School Board (SNCDSB), 23 students from Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) and 3 students from the Crescent School. The jam-packed week began with our out of town guests visiting the Terry Fox monument in Thunder Bay where the Superior North OECTA Unit President welcomed students and provided them a “boxed” lunch.

The visiting students then traveled three hours north by bus to Geraldton where a wonderful welcome feast, and excited Superior North Catholic District School Board students and staff were awaiting their Toronto visitors arrival. Waving arms and hugs were shared as the students and staff disembarked the bus. The weary, but enthusiastic travelers then headed to Lake Kenogamisis Resort to settle in for the night.

The next day began with the sunrise and a hearty breakfast at Between Bridges Motel. The visiting crew from Toronto Catholic District School Board and Crescent School traveled to St. Brigid Catholic School in Nakina where another warm welcome awaited them. The 12 students and all the staff members accompanied students throughout the day exploring trapping, nature hikes, Canadian History through an Indigenous lens. One of the most sacred events held throughout the week was a lake side mass, celebrated by Father Terry, and it was opened with a ceremonial smudge by Elder Victor and indigenous song by Pamela Hardy.

OECTA members Donna Borg and Christina Murphy, Native Language and Culture teachers, facilitated a full day of learning at St. Edward School in Nipigon. The beautiful opening ceremony kicked off a day of the hands on learning. Students had the opportunity to make and roast bannock, build a fire and make cedar tea, clean, cook and eat smelts, participate in a drumming workshop and fish net repair.

Toronto Catholic District School Board students who had the opportunity to return were thrilled to see the their friends again. The cross cultural learning experience through authentic Indigenous focused activities provided deep learning opportunities for both students and staff. OECTA members, Peter Shebagabow shared cultural knowledge through drumming and song with his students and Melanie Jewiss lead St. Brigid students through a Hoop Dancing routine. Alexandra Uetz and Jeff Birch both facilitated team building and games that required critical thinking and problem solving at McLeod Park in Geraldton.

Throughout the week student relationships and bonds formed as students began to get to know one another from 5 schools in the north to many schools from the south and they shared experiences and created lasting memories.

Aaron Long and Sarah Clowes, the Technology Enabled Learning Teachers for Superior North Catholic District School Board, supported technological collaboration using the Adobe Connect Platform leading up to the week long face to face trip. The three participating school boards had two online collaboration sessions to begin building relationships and exploring who they are and the importance of being balanced.

Throughout the week long face to face event, participating students took on the role of leader, gaining confidence in their abilities to share their skills with their peers. The goal of the educators is to support students in their quest of developing their best self. Experience-Superior North is unique learning opportunity that will continue to evolve as new partnerships are formed, relationships developed and rich learning tasks are pursued. The pathways document highlights the questions, Who Am I, What are my Opportunities, Who do I want to become and What is my Plan for achieving my goals. Goal setting, leadership, authentic deep learning through collaboration and exploration empowered students throughout Experience Superior North.


Addy, Ian and Shelby are building a fire to boil cesar tea.


Students at St. Brigid School in Nakina are learning about fur trapping and respecting animals.


OECTA Member Ben Jewiss far right, leading student in nature hike in Nakina from St. Brigid Catholic School.