This interview is part of a special series of the Teaching Canada's History podcast where we spoke with the finalists for the 2021 Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Teaching.
The Keeping Tobacco Sacred project, started by Michel Blades at the Ranch Learning Centre in Lamont, Alberta, is a reconnection to land, culture, language, and identity for youth growing up in government care. Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, this project is ultimately a grassroots answer to the assimilation of Indigenous people that resulted from the Residential School System and the legacy of their children. The process of learning to grow, cure, and prepare tobacco from seed to offering provides students with a daily connection to caring for oneself as well as the life of another. Additionally, in acknowledging the length of time it takes to grow medicines, it reinforces the importance of positively connecting the mind, body, and spirit to protocols, language, teachings, ceremony, and elder prayers.
To learn more about the Governor General's History Awards or to nominate a teacher in your community, visit CanadasHistory.ca/Awards.