Four Nations Coalition of Indigenous Medicine operates Outdoor Cultural Education and Wellness programs out of their facility in Vallican in the Slocan Valley.
A day in early June 8 started just as any day starts at Four Nations — the Sacred Pipe was filled with prayers for All of Life to continue as well as gratitude for the honour of serving their relatives for another day. School District employee Sofeya Devji and her colleagues were bringing their visually impaired Project Adventure students out to the Four Nations facility for a day of unique cultural education experiences.
“We were intrigued with collaborating with our visitors and coming up with creative ideas in how to engage our regular programing in a way that brought equitable opportunity for our visually impaired guests," said a Four Nations spokesperson.
"Four Nations Earth Culture Club junior leaders and Four Nations staff engaged with junior leaders from Project Adventure to come up with brilliant adaptations to our activities and games.”
One of the most challenging activities to be integrated into an equal opportunity event was archery tag. Usually the game is played with a group of 20 players who are armed with bows and arrows that are constructed with 4” foam tips. Each player tries to shoot his opponents with the arrows. If you get tagged 3 times you are disqualified and sit out for the rest of the round.
After consultation between the sighted students and the visually impaired, it was decided that the sighted students would run through the forest making animal sounds. The visually challenged kids shot their arrows in the direction of the opposing team making animal sounds with stunning accuracy. “Some of these kids were brilliant in their skill with the bows.”
“Sir” Richard the seeing eye dog enjoyed the cultural education activities too
When asked what they valued the most from hosting and sponsoring the event, Four Nations’ staff agreed in saying, “I feel really grateful to these visually impaired students for reminding me to stay resilient and adaptable in my teaching style and strategies. A good educator is humble and learns from those around them. Being a good student is the hall mark of being a great teacher. Project Adventure kids are great teachers!”
When asked why Four Nations sponsored the event for Project Adventure, Kat McCooeye, who is the Director of Educational Services in the organization said, “ I don’t know what it feels like to be blind, but as an Indigenous person, I know what it feels like to be marginalized in society and sometimes it feels really good when someone just reaches out to and includes you in a way that is meaningful to you. It’s awesome when they don’t expect you to fit into a cookie cutter but are willing to at least consider meeting you half way. Healing comes from that sharing. Sometimes just having someone believe in you is the best Medicine of all!”
Photo Caption: Sir Richard was a hit with the visually impaired students during the Project Adventure students. — Submitted photo