Project Profile: Tahayghen Elementary
If you’ve heard of Haida Gwaii, an archipelago located off the northern Pacific coast of Canada, you’ll have heard it’s a rather unique and special place, rich in Indigenous culture and ecological diversity. The Haida First Nation are currently in a period of revitalization, through reconnecting with traditions, folklore and language, and Haida Gwaii School District 50 is working on incorporating Indigenous Haida language and culture into class curriculum. When Natural Pod was invited to collaborate on creating a new learning environment at Tahayghen Elementary School within that school district we were really honored to be involved.
The principal of Tahayghen Elementary, Verena Gibbs, reached out to us when two schools, a K-7 and a secondary school were planning to combine and they wished to outfit a common area with flexible learning furniture that could easily adapt to a classroom setting when needed. Natural Pod was Verena’s first choice because of our mutually aligned educational, cultural and environmental values.
Haida Proclamation – ‘Our culture is born of respect, and intimacy with the land and sea and the air around us. Like the forests, the roots of our people are intertwined such that the greatest troubles cannot overcome us. We owe our existence to Haida Gwaii. The living generation accepts the responsibility to ensure that our heritage is passed on to following generations.’
Within Natural Pod there has always been a deep commitment to environmental responsibility, stewardship and respect for the historical and cultural connection between people and place, particularly here in Canada, and so we were delighted to collaborate with Tahayghen Elementary to create their new space. The plan was for the expansion to happen in stages, and as luck would have it when the school was ready to move onto stage two they were the recipient of our $5,000 Classroom Giveaway in the summer of 2020 which was wonderful as it allowed them to move ahead with obtaining additional sustainable furniture to complete their learning objectives. You can watch the Tahayghen Elementary video entry below.
Verena also explained that as well as wishing to work with Natural Pod because of our values around sustainability and environmental stewardship, plus her love of the curved shapes, it was also due to the furniture naturally lending itself to physical distancing while still feeling connected. She went on to explain the furniture lowered the need to have an educator verbally instructing students to keep apart or where to stand, which allowed for a much nicer, calmer and more connected experience for everyone during the pandemic.
“Natural Pod furniture will allow us to create a space that is flexible for students to still come together, but that has areas that are naturally organized to encourage physical distancing while also being welcoming for our students.” – Verena Gibbs, Principal, Tahayghen Elementary
When collaborating with Indigenous communities our intention is always to create sustainable, welcoming and inclusive learning spaces where their environmental and educational leadership drive the outcomes of the projects, and students and educators are supported in their values allowing them and their community to thrive for generations to come. We’re really proud to have been involved in this project and wish to say a big thank you to all the students and educators at Tahayghen Elementary, and the Haida Gwaii community.