Ecole Arthur Pechey wins Mosaic School Nutrition Challenge

Ecole Arthur Pechey photo The beginnings of the winning project from the Mosaic Nutrition Challenge are medicine plants growing inside Ecole Arthur Pechey School.

Ecole Arthur Pechey School was recently awarded $15,000 as one of 10 schools selected in this year’s Mosaic School Nutrition Challenge.

Students at the school will use the funds to grow an Elders Garden with Elder Liz Settee as part of a reconciliation project. Principal Brandi Sparboe said that they were honoured to be one of 10 winners.

“The competition is challenging,” Sparboe said. “I feel like we’ve applied for many grants and been unsuccessful because there’s so many people shooting for the same pool of money.”

Sparboe said their goals are guided by reconciliation and the desire to make a difference. She said students deserve every opportunity to feel a sense of engagement in their school community, and a sense of pride and cultural connection.

Building that sense of belonging and connection is part of their goals as a Following Their Voices School.

“A couple of the things that we want to do is to build on our connections and the things we’ve learned from the Elder we work with,” she explained.

Other winning projects included implementing a Reconciliation project, implementing a snack program and expanding an agriculture program.

All of the elements of the projects have engaged learning through getting hands dirty and joyful learning and the Indigenous worldview and being active with nature.

“There are so many different connections that we drew upon,” Sparboe explained. “There was a lot of guidance from Elder Liz (Setee) with that, and it’s part of this cultural healing that we’re doing. I think the Elder’s Garden is a really good example of that.”

Sparboe said the literacy support teacher, Jenn Henry, wrote the grant application but other parts of the project have also received funding from Sask Lotteries and Sask Outdoors.

“She’s got her vision of having a little fenced in area and our playground where kids can go and explore and be safe,” Sparboe explained. “Then, our hope is to reach out to the community and have families connected to it as well to help be a part of caring for it … over the summer, harvesting it and having that food and having those students bring in that connection of family.”

Sparboe said that every school is connected to the neighbourhood they are located in and this will only deepen that connection.

“We want to build on that because over the years there’s the loss of trust and we want to build that back,” she said. “We want to we want to make this school feel genuinely like our community school, where everybody is welcome and is a part of it being successful.”

Arthur Pechey plans to expand on their Elders Garden by starting a mural project for students.

Sparboe said education is the strongest path forward to reconciliation, so what they do in school makes a difference.

The school garden project has already started. Sparboe said it’s in the humble beginnings stage, but they have big dreams for it.

“We already have started growing the garden, the plants inside the school, so if you come into our school, you can go on almost a medicine plant walk,” she said. “It’s beautiful to see the little plants growing in pots.

“It’s not just about, having fun and playing in the dirt, but it’s all connected to the curriculum too.” she added.

“We want our students to be successful. We want them to have every opportunity for success, and sometimes it’s the littlest things that connect them to school. We just think of it as a part of healing and community.”

To encourage grassroots initiatives to help improve student nutrition, this program, formerly known as the Mosaic Extreme School Makeover Challenge, began in 2006.

The grants will support winning projects that have goals including implementing or expanding nutrition programs, enhancing kitchen and garden facilities, increasing educational opportunities for students and families and supporting reconciliation and cultural projects.

Schools from across the province submitted their projects to compete for the total of $150,000 in prizes, provided by Mosaic. Schools receiving grants this year are governed by the Greater Saskatoon Catholic, Living Sky, North East, Northwest, Northern Lights, Prairie Valley, Prairie South and Saskatchewan Rivers school boards and the Battlefords First Nation High School Joint Board of Education.

“We are very thankful for Mosaic’s longstanding dedication to this program, now in its 17th year,” Jaimie Smith-Windsor, president of the SSBA and Sask Rivers Rural Trustee, said in a release. “We want to make particular note of our gratitude for the new funding amount of $15,000 per school that Mosaic put in place starting this year.”