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Honouring the Past, Creating a Brighter Future: Kootenay-Columbia School District’s H’a H’a Tumxulaux Outdoor Education Program Recognized Nationally

The CEA to showcase how this successful Indigenous learning program is tackling youth despair by inspiring students to dream for the future.


The CEA is pleased to announce that the H’a H’a Tumxulaux Outdoor Education Program has been selected among 47 applicants from across Canada to participate in the 2016 Indigenous ‘Innovation that Sticks’ Case Study Research Program. As part of this initiative, the CEA will conduct field study research to highlight how innovative educators have succeeded in engaging at-risk youth through culturally-relevant, land-based pedagogy. 

H’a H’a Tumxuluax means “Sacred Land” in the language of the Sinixt people. This program’s educational model incorporates Aboriginal Worldviews and perspectives of teaching and learning, designed to ensure that students acquire the skills necessary to form positive and healthy relationships with themselves, with their community and with Mother Earth. The program emerged as a timely response to dwindling student engagement and a strong will to offer learners of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal descent a culturally-relevant and culturally-sustaining educational experience.

“Our selection panel of leaders in Indigenous education have lauded H’a H’a’s deep investment in propelling Aboriginal traditional knowledge to the forefront as a powerful way to captivate students and improve learning outcomes,” says CEA President and CEO Ron Canuel. “Clearly, this is a whole community approach and is a shining example for Elders, Knowledge Keepers and educators from across the country who seek to engage Indigenous learners in their own schools and communities.”

This program also successfully engages and collaborates with parents, staff and the wider community to ensure that cultural and ceremonial practices are incorporated and honoured. As a result, students have returned from land-based outings with an increased sense of confidence, trust and openness to learning that is grounded in activities that focus on leadership, communication and community involvement.  

“Returning to a traditional outdoor educational setting for our students is what matters to us,” says Nathan Robinson, Principal of the Kootenay-Columbia Learning Centre.  “Students are tuning in because they’re out of the classroom and they’re learning first-hand about traditional ceremonies, languages and histories. Self-identity and pride in our youth blossoms because they feel loved, respected and valued.”

The Kootenay-Columbia Learning Centre, which delivers the H’a H’a program, will receive a $10,000 contribution courtesy of initiative sponsor State Farm Canada to grow its activities and extend its impact. Program representatives will share their best practices with a CEA researcher, who will produce a case study report about the conditions and processes that allowed H’a H’a to succeed, including the steps that could be taken to spread this innovation to other classrooms and schools across Canada.

For more details about this program, please visit:

About CEA’s Indigenous ‘Innovation the Sticks’ School District Case Study Research Program

CEA knows there are Indigenous and provincial schools where tremendous innovation is happening by taking risks and implementing culturally relevant, community-supported, innovative programs that connect deeply with Indigenous learners and their way of learning and coming to know. This case study research program will help CEA to understand and promote how one successful program for Indigenous learners can support other educators in getting their own ‘innovations to stick’. 

About the Kootenay-Columbia Learning Centre

The Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre hosts multiple alternative education programs across two campuses in Trail and Castlegar, B.C. This alternative school was chosen as the first outreach site for the “Take a Hike” Program, which incorporates academics, adventure-based learning, therapy and community involvement.


For more information:

Max Cooke

CEA Director of Communications (bilingual)
Twitter: @max_cooke


Nathan Robinson

Principal of Alternative Education
School District No. 20 (Kootenay-Columbia)
Kootenay-Columbia Learning Centre
Phone: 250-364-1275 ext. 299
Mobile: 250-680-1279


Supported by:


This initiative is generously funded by State Farm Canada, which share CEA’s commitment to supporting leaders who are transforming Canada’s education system.