Indigenous Land-Based Education

January’s Ground Floor Display focuses on Indigenous Land-Based and Environmental Education. Land-based education takes an environmental approach to learning that recognizes the deep connection and relationship of Indigenous peoples to the Land. It seeks to offer education on the Land that is grounded in Indigenous knowledges. It is through the cultivation and observation of this relationship that knowing and learning occurs. The materials within this display case are examples that educators can observe to think about their own relationship to the Land and to the Indigenous peoples and knowledges that have come from it.

The first item featured in this post, Professor Sandra Styres’ Pathways for remembering and recognizing Indigenous thought in education: philosophies of Iethi’nihsténha Ohwentsia’kékha (land) speaks to the ways that Indigenous traditional pedagogy and relationship to the Land informs Indigenous educational philosophy. By recognizing and engaging with the many ways that colonialism is reinforced in classrooms through the current education system, Styres works to offer a new, more inclusive philosophy that is guided by Indigenous pedagogies. This book works as a great aid to understand and conceptualize Indigenous educational philosophies that would help to disrupt colonial power relations that are so present in classrooms today.

The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson is a brightly illustrated children’s book that
explores the deep love that Josephine Mandamin, an Ojibwe Nokomis (Grandmother), has for Nibi (Water). This story follows Nokomis as she walks around the Great Lakes in order to raise awareness of the importance of Nibi for future generations and the need to protect such a vital resource of life and knowledge. By providing a glossary and pronunciation guide to Anishinaabemowin words, this book acts as a great resource for teaching children the importance of the environment, and how they can in turn care for the Nibi around them.

Acting as an environmental and cultural resource to Anishinaabe teachings, Sacred Water: Water for Life by Lea Foushee and Renee Gurneau is a resource filled with knowledge from Anishinaabe Elders and the language they use to transmit this knowledge. Sacred Water is a resource that educates students on the importance of environmental knowledge and stewardship, and of the many ways that our relationship with the Land affects our daily lives. With the inclusion of a reading list, student questions and suggested activities, this resource is an excellent tool in implementing Land-based education in the classroom.

In Our Children, Our Ways, the footage captured explores Indigenous programs across the Turtle Island that are geared towards educating and empowering Indigenous students. Our Children Our Ways helps to promote and celebrate the culture of the communities involved, including the varying ways that the children of those communities are educated. This video demonstrates the ways that Indigenous children learn from Land based pedagogies by emphasizing the learning that occurs through the interaction with their culture, language, family, and Land. With a whole video that features the importance of Land and the engagement with outdoor activities in the upbringing and education of children, this resource is a useful guide when introducing Land-based education in the classroom. By encouraging students to learn from the Land, the methods and activities that are promoted within this video helps to emphasize the importance of integrating lessons of the Land into the classroom.

The book A Walk on the Tundra is a colourful yet informative children’s book that follows a little girl, Inuujaq, and her grandmother in their travels across the tundra. Amongst their travels, Inuujaq learns from her grandmother the ways that the Land transforms throughout the seasons, and the many ways that the Land provides nourishment and life to other plants, animals and humans in one harmonious cycle. With a field guide that includes photographs and scientific information concerning the Arctic environment and its plants, this book acts as an excellent guide while teaching students the importance of Land, and the many ways they can learn and benefit from it.

About Julie Boon

Graduate Student Library Assistant at OISE Library | Master of Information (LIS) 2018, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
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