Esci 302

ESCI 302 Metareflection

Hi Audrey, Michaela here.
One major thing I noticed about this course was the talk of white normative narrative. This is seen when people of white settler nation try to ignore the Indigenous relation to land and only use the land for enjoyment without reverence. Things like canoeing have been under attack in this course. In my past I honestly enjoyed those canoe trips. It is a hard memory to turn bad, but it shows how far behind the education system is in regard to Indigenous and land acknowledgement. This class has made me think critically about taking children into nature. It is not just about going for a nature walk. There needs to be some thought put into the decision.
Our effects on the planet was also a key topic. It is a common element added to environmental education, but it does not go much farther than thinking locally as opposed to globally. I will be the first to say that I tend to only do the local thing like not using plastic shopping bags, but it will take much more than that. Yes, we need to create a habit, but things will only change if we can take this globally. It brought out a side of me that was more activist than teacher. Sometimes we need those type of people because they will incite change. By having this new mindset, I can teach future changemakers who will hopefully have an Earth to be on.
We discussed the importance of Indigenous Peoples to the land. I have been continually taught in university about the plight of the Indigenous People, and I can only learn more. This class has helped unite these teachings to the environment. Something important that needs to be address is cultural appropriation. Without agreements or knowledge if we teach from an Indigenous perspective, we culturally appropriate something that is not ours. Although I cannot be perfect, I hope to move forward with more drive to acquire knowledge from the masters of such knowledge.
Being a part of nature came in the form of vermicomposting. Although it was not for grades it allowed us students the ability to get our hands in the soil and make a difference at the same time. Because of the hustle and bustle of society it is hard to feel connected to the land. By vermicomposting we take something we get from a supermarket and instead of throwing it out we take it back to the earth. It is a cyclical process. It is humbling that we can do something so simple but create a big impact.
In my creative journals I saw a progression from a more analytical approach to an interpretive approach. I believe that change occurred over the realization that dealing with the environment is not just about Biology but also about the spiritual connection to the land. It was hard to change that mindset with my background in Biology, but I feel closer to the Earth than I ever have. With the outdoor moments and field trips it created a connection with the land and education.
Thanks for the experiences.

Esci 302

CJ5: My Family of Butterflies

Majority of my heritage is Ukrainian. That means that my family celebrates Ukrainian Christmas and Easter. The holidays normally occur after Christian Christmas and Easter. Easter is a huge holiday for both Christians and Ukrainian Orthodox followers. Traditions are ripe throughout our celebrations. They normally involve food. Food is huge in my family; it does not deal with reciprocity to the land. We would have feasts because when my grandparents grew up they were really poor and starved. This was around the time when there were no Wal-Mart’s to buy cheap food. The ability to get food for cheap at a moments notice instead of having to grow it in a garden was lifechanging to my family.

For Easter we would create elaborate baskets full of food. We would take these baskets to a church to be blessed by a Ukrainian Orthodox priest. Afterwards we would have dinners and lunches to eat the blessed food. We could not throw away the blessed food because it was blessed.

Another addition to the baskets were pussy willows. Pussy willows are plants that grow in the ditches of Saskatchewan. We would have the pussy willow blessed too. It represents the cycle of rebirth. Pussy willow grows wild around Saskatchewan. One stalk of pussy willow contains many seeds. If we bless the pussy willow it makes those following seeds sacred. I drew this picture to symbolize the importance and the sacred nature of the pussy willow plant in my family. The butterflies were my grandmothers favourite. I wanted it to symbolize those who have passed. When someone has passed we bring pussy willow. Even though death is a loss of life on Earth the pussy willow layed on the gravesite allows the pussy willow to be blown by wind dispersing the seeds so new pussy willows can grow.

I adore my family traditions and hope to pass them along to my children one day.

Esci 302

CJ4: Tipi in your thoughts

I chose to make a paper tipi. This is a key symbol people that are not familiar with indigenous culture relate all indigenous people too. Most people do not realize the sacred nature of the tipi. You can go online and but tipis for pets and humans; this exasperates the issue of cultural appropriation. I understand that my version also does such things but it is created to make a point.

When I worked at the provincial parks there was a traveling tipi that would go from park to park. It was the job of the interpreters, who were normally from a euro west background, to set up the tipi for “indigenous days”. A common concern that interpreters had was that they felt uncomfortable with building the tipi. The uncomfort came from the lack of connection to the tipi itself. We, as interpreters, did not want to offend someone whose belief system was rooted in the tipi. I believe we had permission from one member of an indigenous tribe but their word cannot encompass the word of every indigenous, Métis, and Inuit person out there.

Although putting up tipis are a great way to create hands on learning related to culture it is my belief that it would only be appropriate to have someone of indigenous belief build it. Better yet, have that same person talk to the students about the importance of the tipi. As Ho writes, “The dominant industrialized culture has resulted in a false dichotomy manifesting

a metaphor of hierarchy that promotes human over nature, industry over subsistence,

mind over body, reason over emotion, white body over black and brown bodies.” If I were to blindly build a tipi without advisement then promote the white body over other cultures.

Esci 302

CJ3: School Camping Trip = Colonial Childhood Memory

My experience that I decided to write about was from my elementary school days. In my hometown there is something that happens with all the elementary schools in the Catholic division. It occurs when students are around the age of twelve. It takes the students from the city and places them in the “wilderness”. It is a five-day adventure that places students in bunks like summer camps. Students canoe, learn to build fires, do scavenger hunts, learn orienteering, and sing camp songs. It was a great experience and memory of my childhood. I chose to draw the image of sitting around a campfire because that was a major focal point of the five-day excursion. It is an image that portrays the colonialist ideals of being outdoors. But it could be a method of explaining Indigenous traditions by maybe including an elder telling stories around the fire.

It has been a while since I went but from my recollection there was no information administered that relates to Indigenous people and their relationship to the land. This program was lead by teachers in the school system. I believe there was no acknowledgement because it was not a box that needed to be checked at the time. During the early to late 2000’s teachers did not acknowledge the Indigenous relation to the land.  And there was no acknowledgment of the treaty land we were on. Yet now, being a part of the teacher education process, it is a major topic that all students need to be aware of. The school camping trip was a moment that created for students to create relationships with others and to go into nature. The excerpt written by Newbery in Canoe Pedagogy and Colonial History: Exploring contested spaces of outdoor environmental education describes the experience as, “seeking to inspire students with natural beauty.” I bet that now, it being 2019, that topics used have been infused with Indigenous perspectives.

We also need to make connections to the land. Indigenous people held and still hold a strong relationship to the Earth. Seeing as the camping trip was trying to inspire the young students with nature there should at least be some respect there. Using Indigenous ideas of Mother Earth the students should develop that unconditional love towards the Earth as they have for their biological mothers. Using this camping trip only introduces students to the Earthly relationship. As Robin Wall Kimmerer writes in her book Braiding Sweetgrass, “Breathing in the scent of Mother Earth stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin, the same chemical promotes bonding between mother and child.” If we as teachers can begin our adventures by bringing students to nature but include further elaboration on subjects through Indigenous eyes we can break the colonial narrative that has plagued schools for years.  

Newbery, L. (2012). Canoe Pedagogy and Colonial History: Exploring contested spaces of outdoor environmental education. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education. 17, 34.

Wall Kimmerer, Robin. (2013). Sitting in a Circle, in Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge & the Teachings of Plants, pp. 236. Minnesota, MN: Milkweed Editions. (Course Text)

Esci 302

Ecological Braiding

The idea of ecological literacy to me is all about learning about the environment around us. Not just that, but it is wanting to learn about the environment and seeing it from different perspectives. What I want to accomplish with this post is to show multiple perspectives on the environment. These perspectives are described in poetry or love letter form. I chose to specifically look at Brooklyn’s love letter called Love Letter to Mother Nature and Jade’s poem called Eco literacy Poem. I will also include a portion of The Lorax to help further distinguish the eco-literacy braid.

My love letter to the environment anthropomorphizes the Earth as my polyamorous significant other. It describes that at that moment in time the Earth is reacting angerly to something the humans have done. I also bring up the good days in the relationship with the Earth. This relates to Brooklyn’s poem. She goes through instances in nature that she enjoys. She also anthropomorphizes the Earth. An example being when Brooklyn talks about how the Earth smiles and warms her heart. She writes, “when you smile, it truly warms me to my core.” A difference between our writings includes the use of negatives and positives. My perspective showcases the negatives being produced because of the Earth being hurt. Brooklyn writes about the majesty of the Earth with little discussion of the chaos that is ensuing. It seems like Brooklyn’s understanding of eco-literacy is of looking at the experiences we have been a part of.

Jade’s poem, like Brooklyn’s, describes the experiences we should appreciate while in nature. I write my letter in a present-day view while looking at the past. Jade discusses things we should do in the future. Both Brooklyn and Jade believe eco-literacy to be made from the experiences. This is evident at the beginning of Jade’s letter. She writes, “What does it mean to me to be an ecoliterate person? To me it is being apart of and engaging with the environment around you.” These different perspectives, working with my perspective, help braid an understanding of eco-literacy creating waves and depths.

A book we have read in class that relates well to my letter is The Lorax. Dr. Seuss writes of a rock near the Once-ler’s home that says unless. Around the home and rock is a land of despair. But the meaning of the word on the rock gives hope for a once lush land. The Once-ler realizes the meaning of the word by saying, “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.” I liken it to my letter. Throughout the letter I discuss how I want to change things. I even write to the Earth in my letter, “I want to make this work.” It is all about effort. Even Brooklyn’s and Jade’s writings elude to the fact that people need to care about the environment. To enjoy the experiences in nature one must care enough to try to be a part of them. Eco-literacy is developed by people who care to know about the ecological. When you care you engage in experiences. And if you care you will be able to make changes.

Esci 302

Eco Literacy Love Letter

Dear Earth,

Somehow, we humans have caused some strain in our longstanding relationship. Our love has become one sided. Humans have become dominant and you, my love, have been overlooked. You’ve become a mirage to our lives. Just like a pot of boiling water pressure begins to build until there is no room left. What comes next is an explosion. I can see this happening in front of my eyes with you. The positive is that I caught it, but is it too late? Have you blown the pot lid off?

Hind sight is twenty-twenty. Is there something I could have done to avoid this situation of strain? I am learning to read your signs. I am looking at our past to the times when we were happy. Our tumultuous history. Listening to the professionals give their opinions on how we must fix this void I have created gives hope to the cause.

I have been thinking of ways to fix things. I know you don’t appreciate cheap things that accumulate exponentially. I promise to spoil you with things you will like. I know you like trees, and clean oceans/skies. Would that make things better? I know it is only a start, but there is an effort there. I want to make this work. We need to make this work. We were meant to be together.

Esci 302

CJ2: What could this object be (2 answers depending on how you look at it)

In Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge & the Teachings of Plants, pp. 167-174. Minnesota, MN: Milkweed Editions, she discusses that to preserve the land we must provide, “powerful acts of reciprocity with the land.” When I think about ways I can show reciprocity I automatically think about the ocean. I adore the ocean. I like to look at it, to swim in it. A major issue has been brought to the forefront. The issue being the incredibly large amount of plastic pollution infiltrating the ocean. Even worse than just large amounts of plastic is that said plastic becomes ingested in marine life causing illness in themselves and in humans.

One of the main types of plastic that can be found in the oceans are single use plastics. Single use plastics are plastics that are primarily only used once. This includes straws, cutlery, grocery bags, and coffee lids. My creative journal entry is a creation made from grocery shopping bags. To some they may only see the shopping bag, but to a sea turtle they see a jellyfish. The turtle eats the bag and could ultimately suffocate.

The way I want to act with reciprocity is through minimizing to eliminating my consumption of single-use plastics. I could bring linen bags to the grocery store. I could refuse plastic straws for my drinks. These are little things that would not interrupt my lifestyle as neither thing is a necessity. It’s a small leap, but a leap no less. Not to mention the worlds greatest long jumpers needed the practice to make bigger leaps. I will get there if I am determined. For the safety and well being of not only my family but the amazing ocean, I am determined.