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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sustainability and indigenous worldviews : a circle of beauty and wisdom from Mother Earth's Children's Charter School Amber, Candice Anita


This qualitative study celebrates Mother Earth’s Children’s Charter School (MECCS), the first public Indigenous charter school in Canada and their Cree and Stoney Indigenous worldviews and Indigenous learners. This study reveals a sustainability ethos at the heart of their Cree and Stoney worldview as Sustainability is: “We are Mother Earth” and Sustainability is: “Relationality or Relationship”. The Cree and Stoney languages have no exact words for sustainability but rather deeply held beliefs that reveal a sustainability ethos through a circle of beauty and wisdom. The purpose of this study is to explore an enhanced and relational ethos of sustainability through respect for spirit, place, and humanity throughout non-mainstream worldviews (e.g. Indigenous). This study offers a broader concept of a sustainability ethos than the more limited European, Western, dominant definitions of sustainability that focus on variations of the pillars of people, place, and profit (e.g. commodity). The concept of sustainability cannot be compartmentalized because all people, livelihoods, and the planet are one and connected through relationships in life in the medicine wheel, circle of life, and seven sacred teachings. Therefore, this study replaces the notions of pillars with the circle of beauty and wisdom from the Cree and Stoney worldview as practiced and lived at MECCS. The circle of beauty and wisdom reveals the MECCS sustainability ethos as wisdom-on-the-ground experiences that celebrate thriving learners, the planet Mother Earth, and livelihoods. By foregrounding the circle of beauty and wisdom of Indigenous worldviews and validating Indigenous worldviews as equal to non-Indigenous worldviews makes possible the potential for a broader discourse of sustainability. As a non-Indigenous teacher with several years of involvement with Aboriginal Education, I deeply value and respect Indigenous perspectives. This study extends an invitation to learn from Cree and Stoney (Treaty 6) Indigenous worldviews at MECCS. For the purpose of this study, aspects of Appreciative Inquiry and Indigenous Methodologies are used to interview Indigenous and non-Indigenous adult participants to explore Cree and Stoney worldviews as lived and practiced at MECCS.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International