UBC Graduate Research

A Space for Tsilhqot'in Education : The Schoolyard as a Place for Land-Based Learning Lexa-French, Ivana


This project explores how landscape architecture can support land-based learning, cultural practices and community building in the space of the schoolyard. It is based in the schoolyard of Yunesit’in ?Esgul through a collaboration with leaders, educators and students of the Yunesit’in Community, in the Tŝilhqot’in Nation. The design emerged through a process of community engagement, rooted in listening to individual needs, wishes and stories, and synthesizing these into a collective vision. Land-based learning is place-based learning, and so stories of place reveal a unique constellation of values, materials and memories. I also brought my own interpretations and design ideas, drawing the process into a dialogue. The scope for dialogue is limited only by time and resources. In this case, we had one year, three site visits, seven zoom meetings and a few dozen email exchanges. My primary contact, Russel Meyers Ross, generated an ongoing dialogue around cultural identity, Indigenous governance, resource management and community development. Jessica Setah, the principal of Yunesit’in School engaged me with her staff and students to enter dialogues redefining education in a Tŝilhqot’in context. A firm foundation emerged in connecting students, and the broader community, to the land. In the context of this project design, this connection is supported through material choices, significant plantings, wildlife habitat, gardening, sensory engagement, places to process materials from the land, and intergenerational gathering spaces. Beyond the Tŝilhqot’in context, this project encourages a reimagining of the schoolyard as a space for land-based learning, wherein students cultivate knowledge and values connecting them to the lands that sustain us all.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International