Pictured above: Natalie Robertson and son Jet helped host the bannock-making gathering on Zoom.
It had become a popular weekly tradition. Natalie Robertson, an Aboriginal Support Worker, would make traditional bannock bread with students in the Aboriginal Education room at Thomas Haney Secondary.
“It brings a lot of students in and helps to create a sense of belonging in the program,” she explains.
But with the weekly gatherings no longer possible since the suspension of in-class instruction, Robertson is now trying to stay connected with students and their families in other ways: phone calls, emails and gathering on a Microsoft Teams site she created.
Last week, she decided to host a more interactive video conference using Zoom. She wanted to offer a cultural activity that was fairly inexpensive and inclusive to all families in the Ab Ed program.
So, she sent an email invitation to families and posted it on the Teams page and included a list of ingredients and supplies they would need to make bannock at home.
“My co-worker Jessica Knott, my 11-year-old son Jet and I lead the Zoom session,” she says.
A dozen students, along with parents, younger siblings, and grandparents, participated in the inaugural online bannock-making session.
“They were very engaged. It really helped to feel a sense of connection to the families and to culture during this time. I hope to offer similar sessions in the future,” she says.
The SD42 Aboriginal Department is also working on other virtual cultural sessions that will be offered in the coming months, featuring cultural mentors and Elders, she added.