48 hours in Sagamok First Nation





Author: Heather Kerrison, GTA Workshop Facilitator

Write to Heather

On a Tuesday afternoon in mid-December, we walked through the tunnel under Lake Ontario, into Billy Bishop airport on Toronto Island, knowing that soon we would be closer to different landscapes, Lake Huron and Lake Superior.

My colleague and I, Allison, are both new to the Relay team but passionate about environmental education and eager for this journey. Arriving in Sudbury in the evening, we prepared for our morning expedition to Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, where we were set to teach students about climate change and renewable energy over the next couple of days.

The morning drive was snowy yet beautiful. The roads from Sudbury to Sagamok are lined with rocky edges, river, and snow-covered trees. We even spotted a bald eagle!


We arrived at Biidaaban Kinoomaagegamik bright and early, eager to set up for our first day. Our first class was grade fives and what a joy that was. The class was engaged with the content and preliminary experiments. What a delight it was to see them power lights and fans with solar energy and panels. All the kids were so inventive, even taking the solar panels to windows to see how much electricity they could produce from natural light. They made solar cars and we were able to race them in the hallways, with other teachers stepping out of their rooms to join in the fun. This would be something we ended up doing with all our classes.


At the end of our workshop we asked what they had liked most, as always there was no shortage of “making cars!” responses, but we also received “having the opportunity to talk about the world” and “EVERYTHING!”. They definitely left an impression and made us eager to continue.

Our second class went much the same, with ambitious solar cars being made. We even had a group make a solar powered snow plough by the looks of it!


Such a unique design and relevant to the area, that received quite a lot of snow during our stay.

Some students that we had the opportunity to spend time with excelled in these hands-on workshops and made solar powered cars that they were so proud of. I received a few special requests to have their photos taken with their car to commemorate the experience.

Grade 6 student, Germaine, made this speedy solar car marked by a special flag. The work and dedication he put into this end product was inspiring.

In the grade 7 class, another student made a unique car and spent some time adding key features to it. He also was very proud of the output and posed with it beside their Christmas tree.

So much hard work and effort went into the making of this unique solar car.

Our time in Sagamok was marked by such positive interactions with the amazing students at the small school. Their sense of community, eagerness and hard work made this journey joyful. Allison and I, having accomplished our first trip north together, commemorated with a snapshot in front of the school. Mind you, it was very chilly and already snowing at this point, as we were set to make our way back to Sudbury to fly back to Toronto.


Heather (left), Allison (right). A true testament to the weather in Sagamok, but the smiles say it all!

We made it back to Sudbury and flew into Toronto only 48 hours after we had left. It felt surreal to have experienced so much in such little time. But we were both grateful to have had the opportunity to teach in Sagamok and look forward to doing so again.