Initially, the words wilderness, nature, and inspire evoke feelings of happiness and maybe even content . However, according to Newbery, breaking down these concepts can bring about different perspectives with regards to education. Canadian culture is taught in a way that, Newbery argues, is missing a vital piece of the puzzle. She says, “Presenting students with representations of how Aboriginal peoples have been strong, creative, and resilient throughout Canadian history. . . can sometimes empty the more important political questions of how marginalization and erasure in dominant narratives have come to be” (p.32). The way I see it, if we take words like wilderness for example, and use it in way that doesn’t allow us to look through a more critical perspective, we are dissociating ourselves with that part of the world. What is so important to understand is that in the past, the “wilderness” was not the unknown or simply a place to explore, it formed identity and a culture that related to the land in a way that is extremely hard to understand because of European imperialism.
Where are we?
So I’m going on a nature walk with my students and I anticipate that they will ask questions about the trees, the hills, the insects or animals they see and so on. They might comment on the open space and the fresh air and feelings of peace. Asking the question, “where are we?” will disrupt these initial thoughts about nature, and I anticipate I will get responses like, outside, in nature, in the wilderness, by the river, in the trees. This would be the perfect opportunity to practise some of Newbery’s notions about environmental education and (after doing my own research) discuss that we are not on common land, and that the hardships and endurances that Canadian people in the past faced is just the introduction to what this land actually means to each and everyone of us. The idea of addressing this and going on to show appreciation and awareness is to have a type of ceremony. Therefore, my way of saying thanks to the land and the history it carries would be in the form of a song. I would do some research on traditional Native American songs to sing as a class, or just myself to demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of importance of nature.