Johanna Gordon-Walker

Year: 2016-17 – Province: British Columbia

Certificate of Excellence Recipient

Johanna Gordon-Walker

Bella Bella Community School
227 Waglisla Street
Bella Bella, British Columbia  V0T 1Z0

Principal: Jan Gladish
School telephone: 250-957-2391
School website:

Subjects and grades taught: Kindergarten to Grade 12

A unique educator who boats to work every day and lives off the grid; Johanna Gordon-Walker facilitates community mentors by teaching food harvesting and preservation to students, and her love for nature translates into the classroom as she empowers youth by showing them the importance of connecting culture and learning to the outdoors. Everyone participates when Johanna Gordon-Walker is teaching.

Teaching approach

Consistently adjusting her program delivery so that each and every student feels engaged, Gordon-Walker uses a hands-on approach to connect local culture with curricula for science, math, language arts, social studies and art, in ways that students do not see as conventional learning.

Outstanding achievements

  • Collaborated on building the Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards (SEAS) program such that it has received attention from media outlets like the Toronto Star and MacLean's Magazine, and their journalists have travelled to Bella Bella to participate in her field trips. A Toronto Star journalist was even prompted to speculate that this was "probably why this dynamic community [Bella Bella] was chosen to host Prince William and Kate."
  • Brokers strong community relationships with organizations like the Qqs Society that focuses on youth culture and the environment, and allows students to use remote cameras in the Helltsuk territory to broadcast footage of birds and land and sea mammals.
  • Also brokers partnerships with five post-secondary institutions, leveraging opportunities for her students to participate in marine-based and archeological science activities like counting salmon or participating on inter-tidal scavenger hunts.

Rave reviews

"Some teachers explain it on the board, Johanna explains it by going outside and showing us, hands-on, how it works and how to use plant medicine in an actual survival situation."


"What sets Johanna apart is her ability to creatively integrate education that occurs outside the school with what occurs inside the school, engaging our students in exploring their traditional territory and culture, and preparing them to become environmental and resource stewards."

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