I am happy to announce that the Zoo Education Centre was one of the recipients of the 2009 Spirit of the Earth Awards, a project of Manitoba Hydro. The program that we won for is called Aboriginal Animal Teachings.
Aboriginal people have always used storytelling as a way of teaching important lessons to children, as well as entertaining members of their family or community. Elders, both women and men, kept animal legends, their message and morals, alive throughout the generations. It is our hope to help continue to keep these stories and legends alive for future generations, with the Aboriginal Animal Stories program. The objectives of the Aboriginal Animal Teachings program include:
- Introducing people of all ages, especially youth, to indigenous North American animals.
- Creating a connection between art, science and culture through wildlife.
- Introducing people to Aboriginal beliefs, values and stories, especially as they pertain to the natural world.
- Creating an awareness of the value of storytelling as a way of passing information from one generation to another
Spirit of the Earth Awards Program
Manitoba Hydro fosters environmental awareness and encourages initiatives that improve our environment. At the same time, Manitoba Hydro recognizes the significance of Aboriginal people and their culture to the Province of Manitoba. Manitoba Hydro wanted to link these initiatives, and in 2002, introduced a program called Spirit of the Earth Awards. Now in its seventh year, the annual Spirit of the Earth Awards publicly recognizes positive environmental achievements by Aboriginal people or that directly involve Aboriginal people.
The intent of the Spirit of the Earth Awards is to promote environmental awareness and to recognize the culture and history of Aboriginal people.
2009 Award Winners:
The following list includes some wonderful programs that were recognized this year. Congratulations to all of the recipients. Spirit of the Earth Awards were presented on National Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2009.
- Mino Aski (Good Earth) Culture Camps, Misipawistik Cree Nation Health Authority – week-long camps that promote a healthy lifestyle for youth.
- Darryl Nepinak – internationally recognized Aboriginal filmmaker who explores the Anishinabe people and their culture, and uses humour to break down cultural barriers.
- Friendship Garden – Erickson Elementary School, Erickson, MB.
- University of Manitoba Graduation Pow Wow – honours Aboriginal graduates from the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg.
- University College of the North – Aboriginal Midwifery Baccalaureate Program.
- Promoting Métis Culture – Channing, Chelsea and Christie Lavalee, for their collective contributions toward the preservation of Métis culture.
- Zoological Society of Manitoba – Aboriginal animal teachings.
- Urban Circle Training Centre – holistic approach to training and employment for Aboriginal women and men.
- Laura Warenchuk, Buchanan School, Winnipeg – The Spirit of Buchanan School program encourages eco-conscious activities and crafts.
- Traditional Area Advisory Councils (Hollow Water & Black River First Nations) – working on land use and moose management programs with Manitoba Conservation, in consultation with Manitoba Model Forest Inc.