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A photo of Braydn Matheson on a boat in a lake at Leaf Rapids, Manitoba.

Braydn Matheson in Leaf Rapids, Man.

Service learning opens new pathways for FKRM graduand

October 17, 2019 — 

Braydn Matheson’s time at university was probably a little different than yours.

The classrooms she earned her degree in weren’t always filled with the din of staplers stapling, the jaws of three-ring binders opening and biting shut, or the words please-open-your-textbook-to-chapter-seven echoing off sky-high brick lined lecture hall walls.

For her, that Spotify top-40 classroom playlist was replaced with an organic-type of symphony; the crunching under your boots while walking down twig scattered paths, the soothing sound of water clapping against smoothed rocks and pebbles, whirling winds scattering millennia-old language, culture, and stories through the air.  

Through a directed studies research internship, Matheson, 23, spent close to 140 hours in Leaf Rapids, Man., a town about 1,000 kilometres north of Winnipeg. There, she wrapped herself in the fabric of the community—to make bonds, to learn, and to exchange skills and knowledge with the people who call the town with a population of 600 home.

She learned to bead jewellery, make bannock (“mine always ends up being really sticky,” she says), gather medicines, and smoke moose meat.

“This is all part of the process to building community,” says Matheson.

“Being open to the lessons a community is trying to teach you and bonding with community members, before trying to offer advice or instigate change.”

She was inspired to pursue service learning (an approach that combines learning objectives with community service in order to provide a pragmatic, progressive learning experience while meeting societal needs) through a class presentation.

The idea of community connection, she says, resonated with her as she progressed through university.

 “I kind of realized that community connection was really important to me, so I gravitated toward the recreation management and community development stream.”

Matheson and 15 of her fellow faculty graduands close the chapter on their respective FKRM undergraduate careers at Fall Convocation Thursday, Oct. 17 at the University of Manitoba. Eight FKRM graduate students are also slated to receive their parchments at the ceremony.

The bachelor of recreation management and community development major now employed by the North Winnipeg YMCA-YWCA as its Program Coordinator of the Recreation Opportunities for Children program. Matheson says that many families in Winnipeg struggle to access recreational opportunities because of financial and transportation barriers, or lack of knowledge of the opportunities available, among others. The program works alongside these families to help break through barriers and build a future of lifelong learning and fun through recreation.

Matheson says a degree in recreation management and community development has her ready to make an impact in the communities needing it the most.

“I have the capacity to work with a program that requires careful planning, organization, and community collaboration,” she adds.


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