The Saskatoon Public Schools’ Brightwater Program provides unique out-of-doors learning opportunities that have taken place on a quarter section of sandy grasslands south of Saskatoon since 1990. The program is operated at the Salvation Army Beaver Creek Camp and the adjacent 60 acres of land acquired by Saskatoon Public Schools from the Saskatoon Wildlife Federation in 1997.
Brightwater is available to SPS learners who intend to make meaningful connections to the land that are extensions of a variety of Saskatchewan curricula. Programming is based on the exploration of native Prairie landscapes and honours Indigenous knowledge of nature. The sites are host to a collection of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems that include three lush, fresh-water springs, forested riparian habitats along the meandering Brightwater Creek, native prairie grasslands and dry-topped sand dunes. The rich variety of native plants and animals are integral to the learning opportunities of every Brightwater visit. Best-place educational experiences are supported throughout the area, along trails, at creek dipping sites, and within several habitat enhancement areas. An extensive network of trails enables students and teachers to explore the ecology of this natural area while ensuring the more sensitive areas are protected for the future.
The Brightwater site and programming align with Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with respect to Education. Learning is experiential in nature and supports subject areas from an inquiry stance while honouring Indigenous identity and modelling Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Being. Brightwater acknowledges this is Treaty Six land, is the traditional wintering grounds of the Dakota First Nation, and is within the vicinity of the Round Prairie Metis settlement.
Facilities at the Saskatoon Public Schools' Brightwater site consist of the PotashCorp Eco-Science and Indigenous Learning Centre, the SPS First Nations’ ceremonial grounds with an indoor ceremonial sweat lodge, a rustic schoolhouse, tipis, a straw bale composting washroom and an open fire pit. The schoolhouse (heated by a wood-burning stove) and tipis are used extensively as classrooms by secondary and elementary students throughout the school year. There is no potable water at the homestead site (potable water is available in the new building). Washroom facilities are attached to the indoor ceremonial sweat lodge facility and are available for use by all site visitors. A single vehicle bridge provides access across the Brightwater Creek to the homestead area however foot access is encouraged as parking is extremely limited. The homestead site is a short hike (about five minutes) from the bus drop off located at the PotashCorp Eco-Science and Indigenous Learning Centre. The Salvation Army site offers safe, clean, year-round facilities for multi-day/night Brightwater experiences.