Trip to Humber River gives students an opportunity to learn from the land

Teacher candidates in the Faculty of Education course Pedagogy of the Land recently had an opportunity to learn from the land during a visit to the Humber River in Toronto.

Teacher candidates listen to Métis educator Doug Anderson (centre) as he explains the different lessons the land offers to those who listen

The course, originally developed by Faculty of Education Professor Celia Haig-Brown, currently taught by contract faculty member Alesha Moffat (BA ’99, PhD ’18), explores Indigenous understandings of land as first teacher and the implications of such understandings for all. By interacting with the environment in respectful ways, students see, experience and learn to listen to the profound knowledge that land has to offer.

Doug Anderson, Métis educator and founding member of Naadmaagit Ki Group, led students on a walking tour along part of the Humber River. He shared his knowledge and introduced the class to the work being done to restore, rebalance and protect urban lands and waters for future generations based on Indigenous knowledge, values and practices.

Naadmaagit Ki means “helping the earth” in the Anishinaabe language. On the tour, students were able to participate in Indigenous approaches to teaching and learning by listening to Anderson’s stories and teachings, seeing the various environmental initiatives used to restore and heal the land in an urban context, and engaging with land first-hand.

The learning opportunity allowed the teacher candidates to consider relationships with land, as well as the ways in which land informs pedagogy and teaching practices and the implications for students in their future classrooms. In reflecting on the experience, several students remarked that they had a heightened sense of collective responsibility to the land and had developed a recognition that travel outside the city was not necessary to interact with the land in meaningful ways.