The Wild Rose School Division is taking inspiration from a Canadian Geographic project called The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada and creating a map for Treaty Six lands in the division.

Charlene Bearhead, trustee for ward one of WRSD, was the one who brought the idea forward to the division, says Kathy Murch, the director of indigenous education. 

“Charlene Bearhead was the one who suggested that we express interest in developing a floor map for Treaty Six Territories of the Wild Rose School Division Boundaries,” says Murch.

Murch says the original map is a giant floor map that shows all of the traditional lands of indigenous people. There are no markings for current countries or provinces at all as the map is based on the area before first contact.

The division has purchased two blank maps that contain minimal markings. Murch says some natural resource areas along with range roads and township roads will be on the map to help people find their general location.

Now that they have the maps, the division has to start the process of filling them in. Murch says they will do this by reaching out to all of the indigenous peoples in the division and asking for help from Elders.

“Our job is to invite Elders and Knowledge Keepers to come in and look at the map and tell us stories of significance in those certain areas,” says Murch.

For example, Murch says some might point out different trap lines worked by the different indigenous peoples. 

“The intent of the map is to provide a learning tool for kids to understand what the area was like prior to contact; what it’s like now; and to be able compare and contrast the differences,” says Murch.

She says there will be two maps created for the division. One will be stored in the north of the division, the Drayton Valley-Breton area, and there will be one for the south part of the division, which includes Rocky Mountain House and Caroline. Murch says having two maps will make it easier for teachers to access it for classes.

Murch says it’s a big project for the division to take on, and there are many different things to consider. She says a representative from Canadian Geographic spoke with the committee putting the map together and gave them several things to consider for the maps.

She says the cartographer will fill the interior of the map with all of the traditional lands, but the designer also wants to make use of the entire space by adding more information along the borders of the map.

“[They asked] if we wanted to include a list of traditional plants and medicines for each area listed on the outside of the map,” says Murch.

Another suggestion was potentially including a list of all of the different languages that were spoken in the region.

“This is going to be a several year project,” says Murch. “It’s not going to be done in a year.”

Anyone looking for more information about the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada can visit www.cangeoeducation

By Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 28, 2024 at 12:43

This item reprinted with permission from   Free Press   Drayton Valley, Alberta

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