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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Land education and reconciliation : exploring educators’ practice Bridge, Christine Hillary


This study explored ways to integrate processes of reconciliation into educators’ teaching practice. The focus of this narrative inquiry was to engage educators in a series of land-based activities that prompted them to consider how the notion of “land as first teacher” (Haig-Brown & Dannenmann, 2008) might contribute to interdisciplinary approaches to land education, ecological recovery, and reconciliation in their classroom praxis. Research took place on the University of British Columbia (UBC) Vancouver campus, situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people. The 4Rs of respect, relevance, reciprocity, and responsibility described by Kirkness and Barnhardt (1991) provided an ethical community protocol that directed the study. Over the span of four months, a participant group consisting of four graduate students, three undergraduate students, and two course instructors from the UBC Faculty of Education, engaged in a series of land-based activities on various public sites on or near the UBC campus that acknowledge and re-inscribe Indigenous presence. Following each activity, participants were asked to reflect on a series of guiding questions. Data sources included pre-study questionnaires, reflective journals, semi-structured interviews, and my own field notes and observations. Findings of the research suggested dominant discourses regarding the use of land and ethics towards the land were effectively challenged over the course of the study. Participants expressed how they might re-shape their instructional approaches to include processes of reconciliation in a multitude of ways, and expressed commitment to build their own personal and professional knowledge, and awareness of Indigenous perspectives to help further these processes. The study builds on a body of research exploring the effectiveness of decolonizing teacher education programs. It advances land education as a pedagogical model, and thus addresses the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (2015b) calls to action for increased Indigenous content for learners at all levels. Further, it attends to the urgent need for reconciliation that runs deep in our country, by promoting mutually respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples (TRC, 2015c).

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