Wilfred Buck Brings the Stars to HPSD Students

Wilfred Buck Brings the Stars to HPSD Students
Posted on 03/17/2023
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HPE students had the opportunity to experience a mini planetarium this week. Elder Wilfred Buck travelled to High Prairie from Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Manitoba, on Treaty 5 territory, to share his knowledge of Earth's solar system from both scientific and Indigenous viewpoints. Wilfred is a science facilitator, author, teacher, storyteller, sugar pipe carrier, sweat lodge keeper, and sun dance leader. Fascinated by the night sky from an early age, Wilfred obtained his Bachelor of Education and endeavoured to put science into a First Nations perspective.


As Wilfred explains, Indigenous people had their own stories and explanations for astronomy, as did all Earth's people. For example, the constellation that many call the big dipper is known to Cree people as Mista Muskwa (Big Bear). 


Students observed close-up views of planets such as Mars and Jupiter. They also viewed Saturn from among the bits of shattered moons and asteroids that make up its rings. 


Wilfred fast-forwarded the location of the north star one thousand years to illustrate how its position in relation to the Earth will gradually change over time. In ancient times it was a relatively ordinary star within a constellation that Egyptians used as a point of reference when building pyramids. This change in position occurs because of the Earth’s axis slowly moving counterclockwise.


Wilfred spoke about the future of astronomy and space travel, including planned missions to the moon and Mars. He encouraged students to become engineers, scientists, and astronomers if they were interested in pursuing the study of outer space.


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