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Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School
Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary, Hazelton, BC
2017-2018 (Year 2)

Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School is located in the village of Gitanmaax, in the Upper Skeena region of Northwestern BC, located on Gitxsan Territory. The beautiful Stekyoden Mountain overlooks the school, with the Bulkley and Skeena rivers flowing by below it. The school teaches just over 130 students in English, French and Gitxsan.

Majagaleehl Gali Aks has been participating in a local initiative to get more local, healthy, and traditional foods into the hands and bellies of students. The school received a grant from Farm to Cafeteria Canada to build garden beds in 2016 and start a salad bar program to create a well rounded, healthy food education that allowed students to learn through hands on experience. In May 2017, the staff and students at Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School got their tools out, their garden gloves on, and teamed up to build a garden box for each class in an unused area of the playground. Students were excited to get dirty, learn how to build, and make plans for their classroom garden box. Over the summer, community volunteers and teachers helped to tend to the garden boxes so the produce would be ready for the students when they returned in the fall. Students are excited to share their produce and the story of growing it: “We like that we can feed our school with stuff we grew-it makes us feel good”.

Unfortunately, the school discovered that the composted top soil and manure they had delivered to fill the boxes had some pesticide residue in it-some plants just would not grow. Hay that had been sprayed had been fed to the cattle that provided the manure for the topsoil. This challenge was turned into a great learning opportunity for themselves and the students however. Students learned about the difference between organic and non-organic soil, pesticide use on crops, and ways to remove toxins from soil. We learned from a local farmer that we could plant sunflower seeds on the mound of leftover soil-the sunflowers help pull the toxins from the soil and rejuvenate it! Now MGA has a sunflower mound to complement their garden boxes.

This spring MGA expanded the school garden plot-adding three new garden beds and making a Heart Garden-a flower garden with the purpose of helping students tend to their hearts-many students have lost loved ones in our communities-and having a place to remember and find peace is helpful. Looking to the future, the classes are planting their garden beds with food for the fall-early spring greens and fall root vegetables and expanding the selection to include berries and herbs this year. The students are truly growing wellness at MGA.


2016-2017 (Year 1)

Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary, Hazelton, BCMajagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School is located in the village of Gitanmaax, in the Upper Skeena region of Northwestern BC, located on Gitxsan Territory. The beautiful Stekyoden mountain overlooks the school, with the Bulkley and Skeena rivers flowing by below it.

Majagaleehl Gali Aks has been participating in a local initiative to get more local, healthy, and traditional foods into the hands and bellies of students. The school received a grant from Farm to Cafeteria Canada to build garden beds and start a salad bar program to create a well rounded, healthy food education program that allowed students to learn through hands on experience. In May 2017, the staff and students at Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School got their tools out, their garden gloves on, and teamed up to build a garden box for each class in an unused area of the playground. Students were excited to get dirty, learn how to build, and make plans for their classroom garden box. In September 2017, the school held their first salad bar-incorporating some garden veggies from the boxes and sourcing the rest from local growers and the local market.

The first two salad bars held in the fall of 2017 were huge successes, as well as learning opportunities. Feeding over 150 students takes time, volunteers, and patience as children gain the courage to try new foods. Under the amazing leadership and dedication of the school cook, Flo, every student at MGA school filled their plates with a variety of local, healthy produce and eggs. The school learned that children need more time to eat healthy-recognizing that school lunches are too short. Volunteers are valuable as well-the school learned that they needed a solid team of parent, teacher, and student leadership helpers to make the salad bar program a success.

Applying this learning made the next salad bar a huge success. Salad Bars are being offered twice a week, student lunchtime starts fifteen minutes earlier, Flo has a team of helpers, and the relationships with farmers and producers has strengthened. It’s exciting to see students heap their plates with fruits, veggies, hard-boiled eggs, and cheeses. Looking to the future, the classes are planting their garden beds with food for the salad bars-early spring greens and fall root vegetables, expanding the selection to include berries and herbs this year. The students are truly growing wellness at MGA.

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