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CURRICULUM STARTING FROM THE HEART GOING BEYOND A LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT


Starting from the Heart: Going Beyond a Land Acknowledgement is an online resource created to support education workers and students in moving beyond the scripted land acknowledgements that have become our regular practice at large/local events. This has been made available in a digital format on our


website etfofnmi.ca. ..............................


“There has been debate about the au- thenticity of land acknowledgements. It is important to be reflective of why you do one. Making a territorial acknowledge- ment that comes from the heart is a good start and through your actions of learn- ing and inclusive instructional practices, is a good practice in demonstrating your commitment to the land, respect for the Indigenous Peoples and to continue your reconciliation journey. “This document was developed to


provide you with information, ideas and resources that promote further learning while supporting you in your reconcilia- tion journey. It will invite you to acknowl- edge your own values, your relationship with family, the community and the land. It will also explore our collective responsi- bility to protect the natural environment. As you go through the resource, you will be invited to engage in the activities and to examine the importance of nurturing relationships with the Indigenous commu- nities in your region. To further support your learning, there are many hyperlinked resources for you to review which have been interwoven throughout the docu- ment. At the heart of this resource is you, and in the spirit of reconciliation, we wish you a good journey in your learning.”


– Starting from the Heart: Going Beyond a Land Acknowledgement, 2019


How we honour the land and maintain its health so that it can nurture future genera- tions is up to each of us. Being outside on the land has a direct


1 THE LAND


“Reducing Indigenous perspectives to simplistic terms is problematic; even leading Indigenous Elders, scholars, and knowledge keepers cannot be expected to always agree on particulars. However, with this in mind, commonly agreed on quali- ties of most, if not all, Indigenous perspec- tives include: A strong sense of spirituality; deeply rooted sense of place; recognition that everything is related; and an emphasis on reciprocity” (Anderson, Chiarotto & Comay, 2018, pg. 6). When you step outside your door each


day to interact in the natural world, do you consider who may have walked this land before you and who will walk this land after you are gone? Do you acknowledge your personal relationship to the land? Do you think about how the land supports your health and well-being, and that of your fam- ily, community and all non-human entities within the web of life? It is through these relationships to land that we come to un- derstand that everyone has a role to play in taking caring of the land. Being an environ- mental steward is everyone’s responsibility.


40 ETFO VOICE | WINTER 2020


impact on mental well-being, where even a short walk tends to make a person feel better. According to McCormick (2017), access to natural environments can benefit children in various ways, including im- provements in confidence, social interac- tions, cognitive development, academic achievement and emotional health. Taking classes outside can be beneficial to both the students and the teacher. For Indigenous Peoples, the meaning of the land and how one interacts with it includes the intercon- nectedness humans have with the envi- ronment and the holistic benefits to their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. It is important to consider the ways we


feel connected to the land when thinking about territorial land acknowledgements. What thoughts come to mind when we think about land? What do you envision? In your mind’s eye do you see images of the woods, lakes, rivers, mountains, a playground, a field, a garden, a farm or a cityscape? How each of us conceptualizes and


interacts with the land is dependent on our cultural traditions and worldviews of the land. There are significant differences be- tween the Western and Indigenous world- view of land. “Aboriginal Title” to land in Canada is still an ongoing dialogue on land ownership and access to lands. In the west- ern worldview, however, land is abstracted and viewed for transactional purposes and accorded monetary exchange value. For that matter, fixed political and geographi- cal borders and boundaries are a concept imposed upon Indigenous Peoples without their consultation and without acknowl- edging the Indigenous worldviews and ter- ritorial ‘boundaries’ between nations. No


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