We are gathered on Treaty One Territory, the traditional homeland of the Anishinaabe, Inninew, Oji-Cree, Dene, and Dakota Nations, and the traditional homeland and birthplace of the Metis Nation. We dedicate ourselves to reshaping our relationships with the land and with each in a spirit of reconciliation.
Seven Oaks School Division stewards a unique place of learning on 49 acres in West St. Paul, Manitoba. The land is shared by a land-based learning facility, Ozhaawashkwaa Animikii-Bineshi Aki Onji Kinimaagae’ Inun (Aki Centre) and the SOSD’s Service Centre which houses the divisional Maintenance and Transportation operations and divisional Conference Rooms.
These 49 acres are natural and agricultural grounds for community and classroom extensions to land-based learning, sharing a combination of Indigenous and western perspectives. Learners engage on the land in experiential and hands-on ways that both enliven the curriculum and build relationships between learners, and between the learners and the land. Stewardship opportunities are extended to learners, and we are forever grateful to everyone who has had a hand in taking care of this land.
Prior to SOSD's innovations, this land formerly grew oilseeds, legumes, and grains. However, its crops struggled due to waterlogged and saline soil, as prior to agriculture this land was a wet meadow on the tall grass prairie. The SOSD stewardship plan began in the fall of 2017. It embraces a process of restoring health to the soil and restoring ecological processes by returning the Indigenous ecosystem, the tall grass prairie, to 30 acres. In April 2019, the doors to the leaners' Aki Centre opened to welcome land-based, experiential learning.
Today you will find the following features on the land:
- 3 km of walking trails
- Aki Centre, or "Land Centre", our shortened version of our given name. A 4-season modular indoor gathering space with washrooms, resources, and an equipped learning kitchen
- Service Centre (Maintenance and Transportation departments) with Conference Rooms and CVE Building Trades classroom
- 67' x 23' Passive Solar Greenhouse
- Wawiyia'kiti'gahn (Circle Garden), a Medicine Wheel shaped aligned with the four directions. Two quadrants grow sacred medicines, Sage and Sweetgrass, and two grow Indigenous Plants of our Indigenous Grassland. Seven benches with the Seven Sacred Teachings form an inner circle, and the outer circle of 13 boulders represent the 13 moons in our lunar calendar.
- Tipi and Sweat Lodge
- Fireside gathering areas
- Indigenous Plant and Model Prairie Gardens
- Heirloom Vegetable and Herb Gardens
- 4-acres of Cover Crop
- Tree Nursery
- 30 acres of Tall Grass Prairie Restoration in progress
- Naturalized Retention Pond
- Conservation of a 5-acre remnant Tall Grass Prairie
- Novi-Comp, large scale in-vessel composting for SOSD schools
- Toboggan Hill
Land-Based Experiential Learning
Our guiding principles are reflected by:
Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action
Education for Sustainable Development
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Land-based and inquiry-based learning compliment and enrich the curriculum by igniting interest and connection through personal experience. Core themes on the 49-acres are: growing food and connecting with nutrition, discovering land stewardship, recovering cultural and historic connections to land, and supporting well-becoming. Engagements, activities, and projects relate to the season and correspond with observable and tangible changes on the landscape as well as current events. Teachers are encouraged to lead their students in experiences at the Aki Centre, and Aki Centre staff are committed to supporting teachers with invitations, activities, resources, and stewardship opportunities.