Winter festival mixes history and fun

Students work together to move their skis to the finish line at Festival du J.R. Walkof on March 19. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

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An outdoor festival last week gave local students the chance to experience the life of a voyageur.
J.R. Walkof School hosted Festival du J.R. Walkof on March 19.

“We’ve been wanting to do some kind of outdoor winter fun day for a while,” J.R. Walkof vice principal Scott Hiebert said. “As the community committee was planning it, we were looking for ways to tie it into our curriculum. Learning about Canadian history is a big part of what kids do in school, and Festival [du Voyageur] offered some good inspiration for the kinds of activities we could do.”

The entire school of 567 students got to get outside and play, with half the students taking part in the morning and half in the afternoon.

The school adapted some of those activities to their schoolyard, resulting in a fun day of campfires, bannock, snow shoeing, fox and geese and the voyageur’s journey, where students practiced hauling goods over an obstacle course.

“We did it early in the week on purpose so that way the teachers have the rest of the week to use this in their classrooms,” Hiebert said. “They can tie in their reading in the classroom. There’s a lot of great curricular connections, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Hiebert said the enthusiasm from students (and parent volunteers) was high for the winter festival.

“Some of [the students] don’t love winter,” he said. “It’s because they don’t necessarily know some of the winter games you can play. We were hoping to inspire them to look more into Canadian history.”

Hiebert said the weather turned out perfectly on the day they picked. “We had hoped to do it in February,” he said. “We kept looking at the long range forecast and just said for what we were planning to do, this isn’t going to work. March has been much more cooperative. We had the perfect day for it.”