Relationship with the Land is at the heart of what we do, and this Land is Indigenous Land.
Although many people in Canada trace the roots of “Forest/Nature School” back to the United Kingdom, and look to CNAC as a national leader in land-based learning, we acknowledge that Indigenous peoples have been learning with the Land since time immemorial.
As a white settler-founded organization that works on and benefits from stolen Land, we have appropriated and caused harm to Indigenous Peoples’ knowledges and sovereignty on this Land. We have come to understand that we cannot ethically speak of learning and connecting with the Land without telling the truth about its colonization, and honouring and centring Indigenous sovereignty as we support the development of relationships to the earth in a holistic way. We are grateful to the many Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers, communities, and team members who have worked with us over the last 10 years and have supported us in deepening our understanding and responsibilities to our core values of Justice, Truth, Community, and Accountability.
The CNAC team is learning to care deeply about past, present, and future generations, and living in right-relations with ourselves, each other, and the Land. We are committed to co-creating current and future programming with Indigenous partners, so that our programming is safe, meaningful, and culturally relevant for all participants.
To that end, we endeavour to center Indigenous voices in the Practitioners Course by:
- Listening to and collaborating with Indigeneous peoples across Canada to identify best practices of how to work, live and reciprocal relationship with Land
- Centering the regional, traditional knowledges gifted from Elders, Knowledge Sharers and other Indigenous community members everytime we gather on the Land
- Empowering our partners across Canada to build long-term, reciprocal relationships with Indigenous peoples and First Nations.
- Working to break down financial and other barriers for Indigenous participants
- Inviting and hiring more Indigenous peoples across Canada to engage in this work with us
- Discussing with participants our collective and individual responsibilities to truth telling and reconciliation as educators seeking to foster connections among children and the Land
- Highlighting and centering Indigenous voices and knowledge in our recommended resources
- Continually analyzing and re-working our programs with Indigenous team members, hosts, Elders, and Knowledge Keepers across Canada, so that they might better serve both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada, in alignment with our values of Justice, Truth, Community, and Accountability.