As part of the 2017-18 Learning Improvement Plan, Macdonald School has included a goal around "Truth and Reconciliation" and FNMI studies. To assist in achieving their goal, the school has partnered with Kakisiwew School from Ochapowace Nation in a school exchange program.
In September of 2017, a group of Grades 3, 4, & 5 students from Kakisiwew visited Macdonald School and were completely integrated with students from Macdonald. Students from the two schools were divided into four different groups (Earth, Wind, Water, Fire). These groups rotated between four stations involving the Outdoor Classroom (animals and shelter building), Physical Education, Gardening & Seed Exchange, and a Mindfulness session. The Grades 7, 8, & 9 students from Macdonald School served as leaders of the groups. The overarching goal was to have the students meet each other and to encourage the development of future friendships.
The day began at the Amphitheatre of the Outdoor Classroom with Principal Reg Leidl honouring and welcoming the guests from Kakisiwew. A gift of seeds (marigolds, sunflower seeds, petunia), which were grown and packaged by Macdonald students, were presented to their friends to symbolize "growing a friendship".
Dedicated School Community Council members and other parent volunteers prepared lunch for everyone. Upon the conclusion of lunch, students were encouraged to "play together" in any of the outdoor spaces and playground. The day saw many new friendships made. Students could be seen building shelters in trees, feeding and petting the goats and chickens, and using their imaginations while playing on and around the playground or construction zone.
Educators from both schools worked together to build a fire and then stories and legends were shared about First Nations culture. Both students and educators shared laughter and friendship around the fire where the warmth of a newly found friendship could be felt.
A second visit, also included five practicum students from the First Nations University who were anxious to share their experience with faculty members of the University. The collaboration between the two schools is expected to continue, with "mindfulness" being a key focus for future visits.