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Indigenous Environmental Inquiry
July 2, 2018
Green Teacher

WITH THEIR WHOLE careers ahead of them, newly qualified teachers are in a great position to make a difference by working with their students to help shape a sustainable future. In Canada and many other countries around the world, we honour and respect the generations of people who lived sustainably on this land before us, acknowledging and appreciating all that we can learn from them. If Canadians are to build a more equitable society, it is crucial to ensure that students learn about First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples: their history, philosophies, place in the modern world, the challenges they face, and the educational needs of Indigenous students.
How should we prepare new teachers to play their part in promoting environmental education for sustainability? How should we prepare them for work with Indigenous students and the work of educating all Canadian students about First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples? For a long time we felt that these questions were being neglected or were not receiving the attention they deserve in teacher education in Ontario, despite the existence of provincial Ministry of Education framework documents setting out policies on these topics1,2. At Trent University, the challenges of an overloaded curriculum prior to 2016 made it very difficult to do as much on these topics as we would have liked. However, when the province of Ontario mandated a move from a one-year to a two-year Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) program, starting in 2016, we managed to secure space for a course that would cover environmental education (EE) and Indigenous education (IE). In contrast with most other institutions, this was to be a core component of the program to be taken by all teacher candidates, rather than being an optional or elective course.

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