This week I struggled to find time to sit and try place bonding. I realized that we are always making up excuses as to why we can’t stop and take a moment to embrace the environment around us. I ended up sitting out on my deck with my dogs for a few minutes after school one day. I noticed that on Tuesday the weather was quite cold and the snow was frozen, but on Thursday I sat outside because it was nice and noticed the drastic change between the two days. Tuesday was cold and the snow was still there with the temperature in the minus’, but on Thursday the weather was about plus one and the snow was melting. I realized the impact that humans have on the environment and how we’re ruining it. Many people are excited when it gets warm and the snow melts because some prefer warmer weather, but nobody stops to realize how scary it is that our weather can change that much that quickly. While I sat outside and enjoyed the warmer weather, I thought about the impact I have on our environment. I realized that to enjoy the beautiful nature, I also need to take care of it. I can carpool more often and reduce my waste. Although it may be small things that I want to work on, if everyone tried to improve one aspect of their life that affects the environment, we may help to slow down the damage we’re doing.
This week we visited the Regina Indian Industrial School site on Pinkie Road. While we were at the site the question of why kept coming to mind. Why had I never heard of this site? Why were we not brought here in elementary school or high school? Why is this not a proper burial site? Why is there a sign pointing to which way the golf course is, but no sign saying that there is a burial site for those who suffered in residential schools? Why weren’t there proper records kept of children at residential schools? Why does no one care? Why does no one know? These questions rushed through my mind as we walked around the perimeter of the fence and overwhelmed me. I did not know the answers to any of my questions. It was mentioned that people were wanting the site to be marked as a national site, so why has it not happened? The Holocaust was a cultural genocide, just as the residential schools were to Aboriginal Peoples. So why is it that there are sites visited by many for the Holocaust, but there are no sites visited to reflect and learn the history of the residential schools and the impact it had on Aboriginal Peoples. I found the experience to be difficult and a hard pill to swallow. I was able to just think as I walked and sat around the site. I liked the metaphor that was used about the wind. We tried to shield ourselves from the wind, just as we try to shield ourselves from the hard truth. I hope as time goes on we can learn more, and move towards reconciliation so that some of my questions may be answered.
In the video one quote really stood out to me. At the beginning, the man being interviewed said “there is no rest here”, and I really took this into consideration. When you look at other burial sites they have nice fences securing them, the burial spots have headstones, and they are visited and visual to all. Then you look at this burial site. There is no strong fence to protect the people who rest there, there is no headstones, and nobody knows about it. People buried at the site are unknown and aren’t visited by loved ones because there weren’t proper records kept of children at the school. Families cannot rest because they do not know where their loved ones are, and those who suffered from residential schools cannot be laid to rest because there is no justice.
This week was our first time during the course that the weather was truly cold. It was a learning curve for all of us to figure out how to dress properly, and see what clothing will keep us the warmest for the entire time. Unfortunately, I have terrible circulation in my feet, so they are always cold no matter what I wear. I prepared my clothing as leggings, sweats, and ski pants on my legs and a long sleeve, bunny hug, and winter jacket on my upper body. I also wore wool socks and my Sorel boots on my feet. My body was not cold during our time outside, but my hands and feet were. I tried to keep moving by bouncing up and down to keep the blood flowing to my hands and feet. If it is cold again in the coming weeks, I may try bringing hot pockets to class to store in my boots and mitts to keep warm!
I really enjoyed the fire building outdoor facilitation this week that was led by Noah, Nina, and Brayden. I liked how they had the three different stations with evolving fire making tools. Our group started at the flint station, and I found it interesting because I had only seen flint used to start a fire on the Survivor TV show. We had the most difficulty starting the fire with the flint because it took a long time to get it to spark. We also tried to start the fire with the tipi method which may have taken longer. I like that I’m able to say I learned how to start a fire with flint now. The next one we went to was with the matches. This time instead of using the tipi method of stacking the wood, we used the cabin method. I had never used the cabin method before and I found it useful. We were able to start the fire quickly using the matches and the cabin method. I think it would have taken longer to start had we stacked the wood in the tipi formation. Lastly, we used the lighter to start the fire and again used the cabin method for stacking the wood. I learned that you need to keep the lighter warm for it to work because if it is left out in the cold it will not light. We were also taught that the fire needs oxygen to burn. Overall, I really enjoyed this facilitation because it was hands on and informative.
This week for my place bonding I realized that I was freezing and did not appreciate the warm weather enough.
This week we had our first big snow fall of the year! Normally everyone complains because the snow means winter has arrived and we’re heading into cold wind chills for the next four to five months. Although I despise driving in the winter, I love the snow and everything else about winter. People often joke that they can begin listening to Christmas music on November 1st after Halloween is over, so it was quite suiting that the snow began to fall then. I thought it looked so pretty outside with the big white snowflakes falling to the ground. I love winter and lots of snow because it means I can go skiing, snowmobiling, and tobogganing with my family and friends which is my favourite thing to do in winter. Since snow signifies the changing of seasons, I decided to try my place bonding by going for a walk around my neighbourhood. I dug out my winter boots, put on my winter jacket, toque, and mitts and set out on my walk. I loved seeing the big snowflakes falling and landing on my jacket. I did not find it cold at all, I was quite content to be out for a walk when it was “freezing outside” according to others. I also enjoyed the peacefulness of the walk because there was nobody else out walking at the time. Often people do not like winter because it gets dark earlier and is always cloudy. However, I find it to be brighter outside because of how white the snow is, and it makes me think that it is nice out even if it is cold with the wind. The site of the sparkly snow was so calming, and hearing the snow crunch beneath my boots was something I missed. I’m excited to see how participating in class outdoors when it is snowing will affect my learning experience.
Erinn and I held our open conversation during class and had an excellent conversation about integrating outdoor education into all subjects as well as using treaty education in our class lessons. We discussed that outdoor education does not just have to be sitting in the grass, but can include fieldtrips to a museum as well because that is an out of classroom experience. We found a document online that discussed engaging and learning with the outdoors (http://www.bath.ac.uk/cree/resources/OCR.pdf). We highlighted points from the report and discussed how outdoor education does not take from the lesson, but adds to it in another way. Something we also talked about was the fact that outdoor education almost seems “taboo”. When you hear a teacher say, “we’re going outside” instantly students are confused and do not understand why. However, if we integrated outdoor education more often and used it in more subjects than just physical education, students would be more use to learning in the outdoors and develop a connection to the land and nature. Many of us also said that our only outdoor education experience was in physical education or at an “Outdoor Ed Trip”, and even then, not all of us had gone on an outdoor education trip. Outdoor education trips are a great getaway however, students should be exposed to outdoor education in their everyday school environment as well and not just on a trip. We also asked our group to discuss certain barriers that come with trying to teach outdoor education. The common answers of bad weather, lessons do not make sense to be taught outdoors, students not understanding the importance of outdoor education, and having a teacher that is confident to teach in the outdoors were discussed. We also brainstormed different ways to take each subject outdoors however, math was a subject that we struggled with to see it taught outside. We agreed that to teach math students need to be in a desk and understand what is being written on the board to excel. However, you can take a math class outside to do a work period and get them out of their comfort zone of sitting in a desk. Another document we found and discussed was from the Manitoba school systems that discussed integrating aboriginal perspectives into curricula (http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/docs/policy/abpersp/ab_persp.pdf). This was a great resource because we gave the aboriginal learning outcome for different grades and classes and then came up with ideas to take that lesson and outcome into an outdoor education setting. I really enjoyed our conversation because many people had different ideas and perspectives on how to integrate treaty education and outdoor education into a lesson plan that they might have in the future. I believe in the future we will all be more comfortable to teach treaty and outdoor education because of this experience.
I had always heard people talking about Wascana Trails and how peaceful and beautiful it was for an afternoon walk, so I finally decided to go and check it out. When I pulled up to the parking lot where the trails are my eyes fell upon a beautiful valley full of fall colours. The map looked quite confusing so I decided instead of following it, I would just go on the paths and take any turn that I felt like. I descended a steep path to get into the valley. The wind at the top in the parking lot was piercing cold, but as I walked down the path I could feel it getting warmer as the sun shined and wind stayed above the valley. I took the path that lead towards the river on the right of the valley and followed the path until I got to a large rock. I decided to take a rest and sit on the rock. I was the only person there besides a couple of bikers across the valley from me. It was so peaceful and quiet and I enjoyed looking at all the trees with orange, red, and yellow leaves on them. I got up from the rock and made my way closer to the river. Once I reached the river I could hear the water flowing and closed my eyes to embrace the sounds and sun on my face. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my Friday afternoon than outside enjoying the weather before it turns into snow. I continued the path and wrapped around the valley to reach the bridge suspended over the water. I leaned over the railing and looked down into the water. It was flowing and had lots of long seaweed getting pulled my the current. Suddenly, something caught my eye. It was some type of animal that jumped and began swimming in the water. It looked so graceful swimming against the current. It emerged from the water and sat on a rock, and I could identify it as a muskrat. I had never seen a muskrat in person so it was a cool first for me. I decided to go a little further on the path and went up and down hills, making sure to get my work out in for the day while enjoying the views. I wrapped around the valley again and faced the hill to get back up to the parking lot. I ran up the hill through the trees, and when I made it to the top I turned around to take in the view one more time. I was happy with my decision to leave the same old walking route of my neighbourhood to explore a new beautiful area I had never been.
In class we took part in the blanket exercise, and I had no prior knowledge about the lesson we were about to experience. I had not learned about it in high school or any previous university classes. At first, I was nervous because I was not sure what to expect. I thought it would be a story that just repeats how terrible settlers are for coming over to Canada and taking the land. I decided to let go of all of my previous thoughts and opinions on the topic and open my mind and heart up to learn. I really enjoyed that the exercise was interactive and had us involved rather than having a teacher read from PowerPoints to explain the history and how everything took place. Having the students stand on the blankets and be present within the activity helped us to be more engaged and put us in the shoes of the people that were here before us. I especially liked that we were chosen to read scriptures from survivors and people that were impacted by residential schools because it made the experience more real. The visual and involvement that is required for the blanket exercise is a great way to have students learn and understand the history. I felt engaged to learn and listen to the lesson being taught and was able to understand the impact that the settlers had on the First Nation Peoples. We were able to see what the land looked like before and then saw how it was taken away and grew smaller, tearing apart families and communities. I also did not realize how many First Nation Peoples were killed due to the diseases that were brought over by the European settlers. I really enjoyed being able to take part in the exercise and truly learn from it and understand the history more than I ever have.
The next thing that I would like to learn more about is reconciliation and what that means and looks like. Hopefully in the coming classes we learn more about this and what our role is as settlers when it comes to reconciling.
The lake and floating dock in which my story took place is significant to myself becoming an outdoor education teacher because in that moment laying on the dock, it is my most vivid memory that I felt connected to nature at an age older than childhood. Our text book says, “Though we often see ourselves as separate from nature, humans are also part of that wildness” (9). Currently, before this class, I see myself as separate from nature because at this age it is hard to find that connection when I am always busy with school and extra curricular activities which means I spend most of my time indoors. When I was younger, it was easier to connect with nature because there was no technology or never-ending lists of homework. We could stay outside and play until it got dark. For kids today, I feel it’s just as difficult for them to connect with nature because they have access to so much more technology than I had when I was younger, which is preventing kids from ever making a connection with nature. Through teaching outdoor education in the future, I want my students to learn that they are a part of nature rather than feeling separate from it.
When listening to the stories from members in my group all our connections with nature happened when we were still and took a moment to embrace the outdoors. For example, Quinn talked about how she stopped pedalling and her senses allowed her to experience nature like the wind whistling in her ears. I made the connection between all our stories where we were still and embracing nature to the place bonding that we do in class. Place bonding during class is important because we are more likely to connect with nature when we stop to smell the roses than we are if we’re running outside from one class to another.
I love my story about connecting with nature because I could make that connection again at the age of eighteen when I thought that as we got older we would never reconnect and have that same feeling of awe and peacefulness outdoors. My story mentions my social position because I am privileged to be at a lake with a cabin, and it mentions my sexuality because I say I am with my boyfriend. Whenever we are asked about our special place in nature during class, my mind always goes back to the picture of myself laying on that dock. I cannot describe how peaceful I felt in that moment because it felt like time stood still. The thousands of stars spread across the sky and I could see them arch showing the curve of our planet. I truly hope that this outdoor education that we are receiving will help me reconnect with everyday nature like I use to as a child, rather than only having a few nature stories to think back on.