On April 26, I made the trek to the CEBC Northern
Teachers Convention which was hosted by Houston Christian School. Knowing that the focus would be to explore the gift of creation,
I was thrilled to attend, and it did not disappoint! The staff led us to
encounter God through worship, speakers, and time outdoors in a spectacular
Cheryl Bear spoke to us of the deep connection indigenous people have
with the land. I found myself wondering if reconciliation is all about
invitation. Is it about inviting our First Nations community members to speak
to students, board members, and school communities about both hurting and
moving forward together? There is a
hunger to speak; is there a hunger to listen and to understand? As a
result, my teaching partner and I contacted each indigenous parent in our class
to speak to our students on topics such as family structure, faith, language,
governance, storytelling, and the importance of being on the land.
Dr. Dezene Huber, a professor at UNBC, presented compelling and sobering data of how deeply creation is groaning. The statistics he shared with us brought me to tears as I thought about how our Father must feel about the current state of affairs on His planet. It stirred in me also a strong desire to rise up, speak out, and lead students on a path of restoration. This is the beautiful thing about our profession; we are able to share Dezene’s message with our students, together pondering and inquiring as to how we, God’s image reflectors, may have a shalom-making role in reversing the damage. Education is a powerful tool to bring about change.
My favourite part of the convention was the time I spent outdoors with Cindy Verbeek, a passionate advocate for environmental stewardship. She shared numerous helpful tips and activities in helping students engage with nature. I already take students to our “outdoor classroom” at a local park regularly, but found myself asking: Is creation a place where God wishes to reveal himself to me (and my students) in ways that I could never have dreamed? Have my students experienced God in an intimate way in His creation? Could spending time in nature, discovering the intricacies of His creation, draw students closer to Him and ignite in them a passion to make personal choices that will impact our world?
Thank you, staff at HCS, for a job well done! My head and heart were stirred by the speakers and workshop leaders as they engaged us in exploring creation on a deeper level. I feel more equipped to be a justice seeker and earth keeper.