Land as Our First Teacher: Establishing and Maintaining Relationships
2019 Conference Report by Hopi Martin
Last Spring, York Region Nature Collaborative (YRNC) and Toronto Region Conservation Authority shifted the focus of their annual ECE conference to make space for Indigenous leadership and approaches to early childhood education. Land as Our First Teacher: Establishing and Maintaining Relationships brought together Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, youth, educators, and families to learn from Elders and Knowledge Keepers about the importance of our children having quality relationships with Land and Community.
Because systemic barriers continue to keep people from Land, this powerful act of Truth and Reconciliation could only happen with support from Lawson Foundation, The Indigenous Network, Louise Kool and Galt, Pearson Publishing, Scholar’s Choice, Wintergreen, The Silver Moccasin, Natural Learning Early Childhood Consultancy, Natural Curiosity, and York Child Development Family Services Inc. through the Bev Bernier Professional Development Fund through the creation of a Land as Our First Teacher Fund at Toronto and Region Conservation Foundation (2019 Conference Report).
A special thank you to Sara Beth Martin and my kids, Gokoomis Jacque(line) Lavalley and Grandmother Vivian Recollet for their community support, Dr. Diane Kashin and YRNC, Adrian O’Driscoll and the Kortright Staff, and the Natural Curiosity Team for their individual and collective efforts to make this event possible. Thank you to Jordana Rapuch for her copy-editing in producing this beautiful document!
My hope is that this event and report continues to support our collective responsibility to ‘walk together’ with Kindness and Caring for the Land and each other.