Indigenizing Environmental Education: How can Land-Based Practices become an Educational Journey of Reconciliation?
Master of Education
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Environmental education today centres on the protection and conservation of land for settler-Canadians. This research explores how including an Indigenous perspective of Land into environmental education can aid non-Indigenous environmental education teacher candidates in widening their understanding of Land so that they are able to address the neo-colonialism that exists in the field while also participating in a journey of reconciliation. By centering the tenets of Indigenous research—respect, responsibility, relationship and eciprocity—I participated, observed and conducted narrative interviews to explore pre-service teachers’ changing understandings of Land and Indigenous people. This study spanned two Land-based programs (a single day immersion event and a six-week, one afternoon per week, program) and each involved pre-service teachers, professional educators, and Land-based activities. The one-day event opened the door for non-Indigenous pre-service teachers to imagine a journey of reconciliation whereas the longer six-week experience created the actual time and space for this journey to actualize and begin in earnest, to llow for deeper and broader understandings of awareness, relationship building and restitution. This study demonstrates the longer non-Indigenous educators can participate in Land-based activities with Indigenous youth and students, the greater the potential for deeper, more significant learning towards reconciliation-through-education.