• 2019 winners of Canada’s Coolest School Trip

    Winners of the 2019 Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest, students of Khàtìnas.Àxh Community School in Teslin, Yukon. (Photo credit: Paul Gowdie, Parks Canada)

A class from Khàtìnas.àxh Community School in Teslin, Yukon, won an all-expenses-paid trip to Manitoba for their hard work in preserving and sharing their local Tlingit language. The trip was the grand prize in the annual Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest, which encourages students to learn about Canada’s national parks and cultural heritage.

This year, Parks Canada, in partnership with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Historica Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Federation, challenged students to come up with a stewardship project that contributed to the protection of their local environment or create a presentation about their local history and culture. Students documented their work through a photo essay and then uploaded it to coolestschooltrip.ca for public voting.

Erica Keenan and her students in grades 5 to 7 collaborated with local Elders to create a website that teaches others about the Tlingit language, as well as their Indigenous culture and history. Today, there are fewer than 300 people who speak Tlingit in all of Canada and the number of fluent speakers is dwindling. To preserve the Tlingit language, Keenan’s students created an online educational resource that features video interviews, community photos and sound clips of key words and phrases in Tlingit. Check out their website and a photo essay documenting the project.

For their grand prize, Keenan and her students will travel to Manitoba to discover Lower Fort Garry, Riel House and The Forks national historic sites, as well as take in the natural beauty and pristine wilderness of Riding Mountain National Park.