Kalamalka Garden is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Nation.

Your Stories

It's been a few weeks now and the Balsamroot Arrowleaf petals have fallen away from the plants and my students are still talking about this trip to the Indigenous Garden. We are a class that spends much of our time in the outdoors and the information you shared with my kids has come up many times. Every spring they will remember to smell the chocolate fragrance of the Okanagan Sunflower. Not only were all your teachings interesting but you were engaging and passionate about the topic. Your excitement and joy really helped to have the kids buy in. I look forward visiting the garden again next year and hope to continue my learning about plants that are native this land. Thank you/Limlemt ( a word you taught my students).

Tom Craik, Ellison Elementary Teacher

I was just talking with the other teacher in my school who was able to attend this field trip and we both agreed that it is one of the best field trips we have been on! We were trying not to brag to much that we got to go on it to the other teachers in the school, as we didn’t want to make them feel bad, but it was hard because the trip was just SO good! Justen is incredibly knowledgeable about the indigenous history of the Okanagan. He shared traditional and original songs with us in a powerful, confident voice. His storytelling was exceptional and so entertaining for young people as he has a dramatic flare. We were all deeply engaged, especially when he told the story of his encounter with a bear at a young age. The students loved the hands on and experiential aspects of the tour. They learned how to pick a flower in a good way. They got to taste dried Saskatoon berries and learned about a variety of medicinal uses for plants. We heard about the naming of Kalamalka lake and heard about the many uses of the various parts of so many plants that are native to the areas. At the end, we got to see a tulle mat and go inside a tulle mat teepee. The parents who came along for the trip were deeply engaged and impressed too. We were all left with a greater awareness and reverence for natural world. I cannot say enough good things about this experience. I will be back with future classes and I will be recommending it to other teachers and everyone I know.

Collette Bosch, Lavington Elementary Teacher

I’ve been raving about your presentation everywhere! Thanks again for such a wonderful learning experience!

Lisa Horton, Alexis Park Elementary Teacher

Justen Peters facilitated an exceptional experience for GESS's Indigenous Leadership class at K'nmaĺka Sәnqâĺten. Justen intertwined exceptional storytelling, quick wit, and kindness to foster an incredibly engaging, informative, and meaningful time of learning for all of us at the garden. We were not sure what to expect, but within the first few moments of the tour, as Justen began to share knowledge and ideas through stories, we were immediately hooked! Though we were only there for the morning, Justen was able to share so much with us, not only through the information he articulated, but through the way in which he approached teaching us. Justen embodies strong values and connections to culture, and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to bring my students to learn from Justen, but also, to learn from Justen as a teacher myself. I will certainly be back with students in years to come. Thank you very, very much for having us!

Darya Huser, George Elliot Secondary School Teacher

I took my Grade 4 class to the Indigenous Garden at Okanagan College. My students had a wonderful learning experience. The students loved the hands-on learning approach the Indigenous Gardens provided. The presenter was knowledgeable and dynamic. We learned so much about the traditional uses of a variety of local plants. Students loved the opportunity to touch, taste and see the plants up close. Many students commented on how much they loved the traditional stories that were shared. My favourite part was the opening and closing with a traditional Sylix song. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

Kim Tyssen, BX Elementary Teacher

We absolutely loved the field trip!  There was a wonderful balance of direct instruction, hands-on activities and experiential learning.  It is rare that a field trip is able to sustain student attention as this one did.  The presenters were clear, extremely knowledgeable, and were wonderful in terms of interacting with the students.  It should be noted that this group was very large, and there are some children with behavioural challenges.  Their involvement, therefore, speaks volumes for the quality of the instruction/presentations.  It was evident that the students had fun, but they also learned a lot about local Indigenous knowledge.  The students with Indigenous heritage were able to feel a sense of pride as well. We feel very fortunate to have been involved in this wonderful day!  Thank you Marilyn for organizing this event, and thank you to all the presenters as well!

Ken Davidson, Mission Hill Elementary Teacher

I really appreciated this tour. I learned about Indigenous plants and their uses, both from a historical perspective but also through the lens of how these plants have been impacted in the present. I hope to bring my family members to one tour in the Spring.

Beth Triano

I want to send you a big thank you for the tour today. It by far exceeded my expectations! We really enjoyed the information about the traditional medicines and salves at the end. Personally I really appreciate how you incorporated a lot of the ecology/conservation perspectives into the tour.

Cameron Egan

I was fortunate to be Justen's solo guest at the Knmalka Senqalten. He spoke in great detail of the history of the land and the important presence of the garden. He also taught me the traditional names of the indigenous plants, their medicinal usage, and the cultural significance. My favourite moment is when Justen spoke personally about his connection to the garden, the land, and his indigenous roots. I was a visiting artist from Vancouver on residency at the UBC Okanagan campus, and through his guidance I was able to further my artistic research and experiments. I highly recommend the garden for everyone to learn the history and the biodiversity of the land.

Edward Fu-CHen Juan www.edjuan.com www.malaspinaprintmakers.com

Our foraging class was so honoured to be invited to the Kalamalka Garden at Okanagan College. Justen led us through the garden, teaching us about the traditional Syilx Okanagan edible & medicinal uses of the arrow-leaf balsam root, soapberries, Saskatoon berries, wild potatoes and ponderosa pines, just to name a few. We also had the pleasure of working with Marnie Gregoire from OKIB who taught us about traditional uses of tules and how to make a necklace using willow, tules and sinew. The students had a wonderful time. We highly recommend booking a tour!

Academy of Inquiry and Adventure - School District 22