Riverside Biology 11 students in Ms. Mireau’s science class have worked on an invertebrate species project and incorporated an indigenous perspective to their learning. The project required students to research an invertebrate species of interest and identify its taxonomy, evolution, and life functions. They then gathered the indigenous knowledge and understanding of their chosen Invertebrate from research sources provided by Coquitlam Aboriginal Education.

Students took a trip to the Vancouver Aquarium on December 15, 2018 and participated in a ‘wonder walk’ to get a look at the interesting invertebrates that they could use in their projects.

“Students needed to brainstorm and see how they could weave their chosen invertebrates with either their own heritage, or the various First Nations cultures of BC,” said Mireau.

Aboriginal interpretations of invertebrate species.

The process of the project required to first choose an invertebrate, find where it fits on the Tree of Life, to research its evolutionary history, to describe how the Invertebrate functions, and then to include a visual diagram or photo. The Aboriginal portion of the project required students to find out if their invertebrates had any connotations or stories behind it, and any connections to Aboriginal clans.

Visitors from Coquitlam Aboriginal Education came in and witnessed students work. Terri Galligos , a resource teacher for Ab Ed, was impressed with how the students were very open minded to working with an Aboriginal perspective in their projects.

“The project is used to showcase how students can interpret indigenous ways of being by researching and looking for diverse legends and stories that connect with the invertebrate,” said Galligos.

Maebel presenting her Jumping Spider project.

Grade 11 Bio student, Maebel Sirimanotham showcased her work on the ‘jumping spider’ in a video, where she was able to connect her Chinese heritage to spiders through the Ojibwe dreamcatcher. She stated that in her culture it is wrong to kill spiders because spider’s webs will catch bad spirits similar to the indigenous dreamcatcher filtering out and catching bad memories and dreams.

“This project is a good learning opportunity because we get to understand the First Nations’ perspective; they were the first people and they definitely have knowledge that we don’t have,” said Sirimanotham.

Additional Aboriginal Education visitors were Gayle Bedard, the Principal for Ab Ed , and Rob Cowie a resource teacher, for Ab Ed, who came to witness the students present their                                                                             finished projects in groups of 4-5 people.