For over nine years, Uu-a-thluk has worked with Science Venture and the University of Victoria to develop and deliver science-themed camps in Nuu-chah-nulth communities. To date more than 800 children have enjoyed this camp, thanks to this long-lasting partnership and generous donations.
Uu-a-thluk science camps aim to increase familiarity with scientific concepts in Nuu-chah-nulth children grades 4-6, particularly those concepts related to ocean resources and management. This summer 131 children from Ahousaht, Ditidaht, Ehattesaht/ Chinehkint, Hupacasath, Huu-ay-aht, Mowachaht/Muchalaht, Tseshaht, and Uchucklesaht First Nations attended the camps. Many are already looking forward to next year.
Bringing the camps to Nuu-chah-nulth communities, incorporating cultural teachings, and partnering with local groups are just a few of the things that have made this program so successful. In most locations for 2014, local guests also took part in the camps to share their expertise and passion.
In Hupacasth territory, Sandra Vissia showed campers how people once harvested and cleaned fish. She included lessons on how she uses math when she sells fish, and demonstrated her fish cleaning tools. Uu-a-thluk intern Jared Dick, along with Tseshaht biologist Andy Olson, led salmon dissections that included lessons in fish biology.
Susan Lauder from West Coast Aquatic talked about invasive species with children during a visit to Roger Creek Park. Discussions about water use and conservation ensued. Later, youth coordinator Carolina Tatoosh, and Deanna Robinson worked with Hupacasath and Uchucklesaht campers to encourage participation in activities, and provide rides and snacks.
One community mentor, Perry Edgar from the Ditidaht Fisheries Department, brought campers on an interpretive boat tour around Nitinat. Campers experienced a rare saltwater lake and glimpsed sections of the West Coast Trail. On the tour, Perry shared community stories and information about fisheries, the landscape, and the marine environment. The group even sighted a migrating grey whale. “This event was an incredible opportunity for the children and for our instructors to learn on the land,” said Michelle Colyn, Capacity Building Coordinator for Uu-a-thluk.
During each weeklong camp, Science Venture instructors Jessica Steele and India Wiebe led the campers through lessons about phytoplankton, greenhouse gasses, marine pollution, ocean acidification, and much more. The hands-on activities drew squeals of delight from campers who couldn’t wait to see how things would turn out. “Look! I’m a scientist!” said one Tseshaht camper while performing an experiment about density. “I can’t wait to come back next year,” said another.
Field trips to the Ucluelet Aquarium and local ocean-based businesses rounded out the experience. “Hearing the kids’ exclamations as they made new discoveries was very satisfying,” said Jessica. “I remember one girl asking, ‘Is this magic?’ during one experiment. To which we replied, ‘No, it’s science!’”
Uu-a-thluk would like to thank the following sponsors for supporting the 2014 science camps:
Actua / Science Venture
BC Capacity Initiative
Canadian Fishing Co
Cermaq Canada Ltd.
Creative Salmon Co.
French Creek Seafood
Grieg Seafood B.C. Ltd
M.C. Wright & Associates
Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood Development Corporation
Pacific Boat Brokers
Pacific Halibut Management Association
Pacific Sea Cucumber Harvesters
Port Alberni Port Authority
Ratcliff and Company
The Hospitality Inn
Underwater Harvesters Association