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Okanagan College students gain transformative learning from Splatsin community

Medicine wheel and traditional teachings benefits career as education assistants
Okanagan College Students were in Education Assistant program in Salmon Arm with Dodie Jones, a member of the Splatsin te Secwépemc. (Okanagan College handout photo)

Learning solely from textbooks and in classrooms were not enough for students at Okanagan College to prepare for their future careers.

Dodie Jones, a member of the Splatsin te Secwépemc community, collaborated with Okanagan College on the Certified Education Assistant Program in Salmon Arm to address this gap by offering students a transformative learning experience.

The workshop, titled Medicine Wheel and Traditional Teaching, delved into the traditional teachings of the Secwépemc people and the medicine wheel, which originates from the Prairies.

Jones initiated every day of the two-day workshop by sharing her personal story, her deep ties to the ne Secwépemcúl’ecw (Secwépemc land), and the profound significance of the medicine wheel in both her healing journey and overall life.

“The medicine wheel has been such an important part of my own healing and to share that knowledge of healing with others who will be working in schools here in our community is incredibly powerful,” Jones said. “I am absolutely thrilled with the strong connection I was able to make and the impact it will have for these students as they go on to work with other children as their careers begin.”

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During the workshop, Dodie created individual offering pouches for each student, which were meticulously sewn by hand. She then instructed the students to place items that held personal significance to them, representing their unique talents and abilities. In addition, Dodie supplied tea, cedar, sage, a unique fragment of the earth, and a variety of colors corresponding to the medicine wheel.

Mandie Belle, the program coordinator at OC’s CEA program, expressed deep admiration for the incredible strength that Jones instilled in the students during the workshop.

“Understanding the medicine wheel can help us integrate more indigenous knowledge into our lives and into curriculum.”

Belle also emphasized that Jones played a crucial role in affirming each student’s choice to pursue a career as an education assistant, and she helped them recognize the valuable contributions they can make to children in the classroom. The experience was profound and enriching for everyone involved, leaving a lasting impact on their memories.