Nestled in the Acadian forest surrounding Riverside School in Albert Bridge, a two-kilometer trail is welcoming students and residents to an outdoor learning experience. Riverside’s Knowledge Path is an interactive walking trail that was officially opened in December 2020. CBU’s Dr. Katherine Jones, Associate Professor of Biology, is playing an important role in the development of the trail, sharing her expertise in community engaged research and the science of the natural environment.
With funding assistance from the Change Lab Action Research Initiative (CLARI), Dr. Jones and student research assistants, Hannah Kosick and Sarvjeet Kaur, partnered with project champions at Riverside School, including Principal Suzanne Brown, Vice-Principal Todd MacAulay and teachers Donna-Lee Parker and Bernadette Romeo. This partnership led to the Riverside’s Knowledge Path website, along with a survey to gather input from the community about this resource. The survey results are now being compiled and Dr. Jones expects to complete a report over the next month.
“Riverside School is eager to use input from community members who’ve shared how they would like to interact with the Path,” says Dr. Jones. The Path is currently home to an outdoor classroom, a performance stage, a sharing circle, educational signage and special events, all contained in a well-groomed gravel walkway. The trail is also recognized as a Healing Forest within the National Healing Forest Initiative. “The intention of the survey is to further develop the Path as a community asset as well as a teaching resource so this feedback is incredibly important,” Dr. Jones adds.
In its current stage of development, the Path provides an engaging experience for students to learn about traditional Mi’kmaq culture and teachings, and skills. Riverside School Principal, Suzanne Brown, says the vision for the Knowledge Path extends beyond the student population, with an opportunity to engage the broader community where students reside.
“The goal is to offer benefits for all users of the trail, especially families – for physical recreation, spiritual and mental health and increased environmental stewardship from western and Indigenous perspectives, encouraging a Two-Eyed Seeing approach,” says Brown. She says Riverside School is excited to show an appreciation for community perspectives in further development of the Trail.
“In May 2019, our team of teachers and school advisory members envisioned the creation of Riverside’s Knowledge Path,” Brown explains. “We are thrilled to say it has become a reality. Now, we will use the input from our stakeholders to make sure we are reflecting the vision of the community.”