2022 – 2023

A look at our first year…


The first year of the CIA program was a huge success, and the model tested has proved to be extremely valuable for students, parents, faculty and the Cortes Island community.

* We stretched the classroom to include the outdoors and local community organizations, from Hakai Institute to Cortes Radio, helping students develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of ecosystems and their potential as citizens.

* We had a strong team of facilitators, regional knowledge-holders and mentors, ensuring a unique, hands-on education, and a classroom that prides itself on inclusion, accessibility and kindness.

* The CIA model includes project based learning which allows for participation for a variety of learners and that makes a difference in the community.


2022 – 2023 Curriculum


Fall Quarter

Our Oceans: Marine Conservation, Leadership and Stewardship

The fall semester will focus on science, leadership, physical education, and career education, while providing experiential, project-based, and place-based learning opportunities. A mix of classroom and field work, students will be working alongside local aquaculture workers, marine conservationists, naturalists, scientists, and Indigenous knowledge holders and will get to work with local organizations including Cortes Kayaks, Friends of Cortes Island (FOCI), Hakai Institute, Cortes Wild!, and the Children’s Forest for a truly unique, immersive educational experience.

The fall program is divided into two modules:

Outdoor Adventure Leadership

This five week course will give students a leadership and PE credit through School District 72. We believe that the ecology of Cortes Island provides an incredibly rich learning environment which engages many disciplines. This course will equip youth with practical skills for outdoor safety and recreation while also developing a basis of curiosity and scientific tools for observing the ecosystems around us. Our place based curriculum aims to develop critical thinking skills, oral communication, presentation skills, cooperation, leadership skills, and decision making. Each week we will have a new theme to act as a lens for our planned activities. Each day in the field we will assign two leaders of the day, who will have the opportunity to practice their leadership skills through facilitating activities for the rest of the group. Our learning will culminate in two student-led back-country camping trips. This place-based learning experience is designed to deepen relationships with nature, build confidence, provide leadership and learning opportunities and, most importantly, have fun.

Our Oceans Aquaculture and Stewardship

Introduction- Ocean literacy plays a role in the ways the future generation will interact with, steward, and manage marine spaces. This course offers students an introduction to marine spaces through scientific thinking and questioning. Through field-based learning, discussion-based classes, interactions with professionals across many marine sectors, and interdisciplinary projects, this course facilitates space for students to connect in-classroom (and out of class) learning to ‘real world’ issues and questions.

Course Description- Our Oceans: Marine Science, Human Impacts and Conservation has been developed to expand youth’s ocean literacy and understanding of the marine environment. This course investigates a diverse range of topics and allows students to critically engage with marine sectors (marine sciences and monitoring, blue economies, marine management and planning, stewardship, and conservation) and investigate pressing questions/issues that impact our oceans. This course is designed to fulfill BC’s “Explore Science Curriculum” through hands-on and experiential learning. Through this course students will receive one (grade dependent) science credit.


Winter Quarter

Elevating Youth Voices

The winter semester will focus on applied design skills and technologies, English language and writing skills, career life connections, and Indigenous world views. Working alongside local partner organizations, including Reel Youth, Cortes Community Radio, and other island social profits, students will explore digital communications technologies, the history of truthtelling, and tools of effective storytelling. The program will conclude with public presentations of students work, including radio broadcasts, a podcast series, and video screenings.

The winter program is divided into two modules:

Creative Tools for Truth Telling

Creative Tools for Truth-Telling will lead students through the history of truth telling from oral story telling to journalistic podcasts with an emphasis on persuasive writing, oral communications skills, research, and technical podcasting skills. Local, indigenous, and internationally-known journalists and writers will teach modules and concepts of effective story-telling, allyship in editing, and work as mentors toward the students final project, their own podcasts. These will be produced and distributed with support from Cortes Community Radio Society.

Students will receive a grade-appropriate English/New Media credit. This course will engage students with working writers and producers, provide guidance on working within a real radio station and producing audio content, and familiarize students with the hard and soft skills necessary to report on the truths in their communities.

Film Making with Reel Youth

This course will leave students with photography, animation, writing, cinematography, editing, and leadership skills. Throughout the five weeks, participants will produce a series of animation, personal narrative, and documentary films that will premiere at a local film festival screening.

The course culminates in making a short documentary film about an elder – a local older person with knowledge and wisdom to share. Students will build inter-generational relationships while gaining communications, story telling, film production, and community engagement skills.

After the course is complete the films are premiered at a local film festival screening. Friends and family of the youth and elder participants are invited, along with the public and local media. Students will play a leadership role in organizing and promoting the event and funds raised will go towards ongoing high school programming on the island.


The screening includes a question and answer period between the participants and the audience, allowing for dialogue around the issues and stories showcased in the films. Online distribution will start after the film festival screening and all of the films will be submitted to the touring Reel Youth Film Festival. Reel Youth will provide facilitation and promotional materials (posters, press release, digital graphics) for the premier.

Student Showcase – Cortes Radio

In the Fall/Winter of 2022-2023, Cortes Community Radio Station partnered with the Cortes Island Academy to work with local islanders to train 20 students on the foundations of journalism, podcast, and live radio. The result? The voices of our future shaped the sounds and minds of CKTZ listeners.

Postcard Projects

Postcard Projects

Produced in the very first week of the tools for truth telling program, these short sound poems were created by students reflecting on their time spent on Cortes Island. In the span of five days, students went from knowing nothing about audio recording and production to creating these truly unique personal observations.

Ripple Effect

Ripple Effect

Ripple effect is a five episode podcast series created, written and produced by the students of CIA.

Episode 1 – Cosmic Confidential
Episode 2 – The Wild Island
Episode 3 – Teens as Teachers
Episode 4 – Fixing the Curriculum
Episode 5 – Just the Essentials

Teen Takeovers and Folk U

Teen Takeovers and Folk U

Teen takeover is an opportunity to listen in to the music young people are listening to, with some commentary by the CIA students.

Students also joined host Manda Aufochs Gillespie and her guests, on her radio show Folk U radio.

Student Showcase – Reel Youth

Reel Youth created a curriculum to meet the grade 9-11 BC Media Studies guidelines, and facilitated it over five weeks for the students of the Cortes Island Academy. The students made personal video poems, group animations, and a group documentary showcasing the wisdom and stories of older Cortesians.



CIA Parent Presentation by Isabella M

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