by Elliott Young
(Edmonton) – In Canada, land-based learning education has been practiced by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities since time immemorial. Today, there is an increasing interest across many cultures and backgrounds in this way of learning.
Here at home, and internationally, the growing body of knowledge is strengthened by the teachings of Indigenous community Elders and knowledge keepers, regarding promising and proven approaches and how they contribute to improving the student experience.
NorQuest College will be hosting a symposium on November 5 and 6, 2018 to cover many of these practices. Educators, Indigenous educators, and students are all encouraged to attend.
In partnership with the Government of Alberta, Government of Canada, and Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council, NorQuest College will bring educators, professionals, students, Elders, and Indigenous community leaders together to learn, share, and experience best practices and create new opportunities for knowledge transfer, educational methods, and building partnerships. The focus is to create better learning opportunities for all students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
“We are very excited for this symposium,” says Conor Kerr, Manager, Indigenous Relations at NorQuest College. “We have some amazing keynote speakers who have an extensive knowledge of land-based learning and how to bring it right into our schools for our youth. Land-based learning continues to be an important subject for our Indigenous community and we know that this gathering will create many opportunities to learn from each other.”
The symposium is honoured to welcome Dr. Leroy Little Bear, whose lifetime of accomplishment includes some of the most important political achievements for Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world. His dedication to education, leadership, community-building and advocacy has led to a United Nations declaration, changed the Constitution of Canada, and influenced the lives of thousands of students. His contributions to advancing human rights have improved the status of Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world. In his life’s work, stretching from a residential school on the Blood Indian Reserve to his position of great influence in international human rights, Leroy Little Bear has given Albertans and people around the world a shining example of scholarship, leadership, collaboration, and advocacy.
Monday’s keynote speaker is Dr. Alex Wilson. Dr. Wilson is Neyonawak Inniniwak from the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. She is a professor with the Department of Educational Foundations and the Academic Director of the Aboriginal Education Research Centre at the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Wilson is a recipient of the University of Saskatchewan Provost’s Award in Aboriginal Education for connecting research to pedagogy and practice, the Avenue Community Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity’s 2014 Affinity community service award, the 2015 Provost’s Award for Community Outreach and Engagement, the 2016 Nellie Award, and the 2016 Peter Corren Award. She was recently recognized by the Legislature of Manitoba for her extensive ongoing work with Indigenous communities revitalizing Cree culture through land based education.
NorQuest is also pleased to welcome Selwyn Button. Button is currently the Director of the Laowitja Institute, Queensland Couth Native Title Services and the Queensland Rugby Union, and has served on numerous other councils and committees including the Queensland Indigenous Education Consultative Committee, and Queensland Council of Social Services.
In addition to great speakers, the symposium features a variety of educational breakout sessions. The sessions will either focus on a lecture-style learning environment in the college’s Singhmar Centre for Learning or have an experiential learning component where the participants will spend the first day out on the land with Elders and knowledge keepers.
Participants are also invited to a reception with entertainment provided by Asani, an Indigenous women’s trio from Edmonton. Asani draws from their cultural heritage to create music that is accessible to a wide audience, but delivers a powerful message from their hearts.
To register or find more detailed information about the symposium, go to landbasedlearningsymposium.com