Garden Hill Manitoba - Our First Land Based Program Support Project

Colleen Gray

Land Based Learning and Language Support 
An Art for Aid project 
March 31, 2022

This year Art for Aid launched a new support program to support existing land-based learning and language programs for remote Indigenous schools.

The Kistiganwacheeng Elementary School  in Garden Hill, Manitoba was our first launch and we're proud to say it was a massive success.

Yesterday we officially received word that the program's winter supplies and a new Sew & Sew Skills Lab have made it to Garden Hill, Manitoba, thanks to many volunteers, donors and our new buddies, Direction North who got our shipment over the ice roads just in time. The support of our boot supplier was the anchor for this initiative; we couldn't have done this so well without his support. (Thanks Frank!)

Tag showing the boots at a cold rating of -100 Fahrenheit

This project came together so quickly! In 2 months we were able to secure 29 pairs of boots rated to -100 F, 40 balaclavas, wool socks, several boxes of hand/foot warmers, ice fishing gear,
2 new Janome sewing machines and a compliment of sewing supplies for their new Sew & Sew Skills Lab along with 2 rolling carts to move the sewing machines for storage. All this was shipped in large hard totes for future dry and safe storage.

The entire cost for the program came to $7,021.79 with a finished shipping weight of 357 lbs. 

The benefits to the students at having this much access to quality outdoor gear for their land-based learning and language program is vast. Students are often turned away from the program because they don't have the proper gear for a day spent on a frozen Manitoba lake. 

The program sees youth spending a day or more at a cabin stationed at a local lake where they learn how to ice fish, gauge ice safety, learn about winter rescue, local herbs and wild food. They learn basic survival skills and how to connect to the land using their traditional language as much as possible throughout the trip. Indigenous cultural foundations stem from the land and the language. Elders accompany the group and share stories and knowledge with youth who are filled with questions and curiosity about their environment and cultural practices.

Cultural programming is a vital component in Indigenous education. Having a program that sees quality gear that allows youth access to the program will bring long-term, significant benefit to the students.

Photo of Colleen Gray, project founder, standing behind a stack of new boots.
The Kistiganwacheeng Elementary School is also the first school in Manitoba to carry the nationally recognized Sew & Sew Skills Lab! We are looking forward to sharing the future accomplishments of the students as they fall in love with sewing. Each year we will top up their program supplies and fill their sewing program wish list.

Each December Art for Aid will begin the collection to support one land based learning program. We will do a short-term callout out for monetary donations to purchase new quality outdoor gear for their program and have it shipped to the school.

Indigenous youth cooking with Elders outside

Connecting Indigenous youth to the land using cultural knowledge and shared understanding is integral to the repair of the culture. Access to the proper tools to support youth education programming is what Art for Aid is all about. We could not do this work without your support. 

To learn more about our programs, visit us at

Chi miigwetch. Thank you so much to all who were involved in making this project such a great success.


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