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Frontier School Division
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Forest to Furniture at Helen Betty Osborne

April 01, 2021

Students at Helen Betty Osborne Ininiw Education Resource Centre in Norway House are getting out on the land to learn and harvest as part of teacher John Kalmbach's Construction Technology class.

“It ties in with sustainability and resources and where your material comes from," said Kalmbach.

“We're kind of experimenting. It's a new adventure."

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Elder Charles Ettawacappo (left) sharing knowledge on the land with John Kalmbach's students.

Kalmbach is running a new Forest to Furniture program that includes field trips to harvest resources for construction projects and artwork. Last September, Kalmbach ran four trips with students and Elder Charles Ettawacappo. They brought back birch each time—about 10 2-inch round trunks—and students made things like tables and artwork like Christmas ornaments.

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Student Michael works to prepare birch for a beautiful table he created (next photo).

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The process of being on the land with an Elder is a way of learning that transcends books, Kalmbach says. Elder Ettawacappo shared information with students about the birch tree, it's value to the community and how to harvest in environmentally friendly ways.

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Making wood come alive.

“Charlie was also explaining about Chaga mushroom, which grows mainly on birch trees and it's boiled to make tea for your stomach. I didn't know that, so I'm learning as well," says Kalmbach.

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Social distancing on the land.

“The students respond to being outside. It gives a new dimension to the classroom. It's a learning without the classroom borders."

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Tree art for the tree.

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Birch shavings from the construction process make perfect roses for a wall hanging.​​