ESCI 302

There is more to canoeing that paddling back and forth.

In grade 12 I took part in an outdoor phys-ed class, where we took advantage of the river flowing through Moose Jaw by going canoeing every morning for two weeks.  During our excursion down the river not once did we talk about the history of the river, or how rivers such as this one were used frequently for transportation back in the day. After reading Canoe Pedagogy and Colonial History: Exploring Contested Spaces of Outdoor Environmental Education. By Liz Newberry  I came to the realization that this would have been the perfect opportunity for my teacher to bring up the sometimes awkward conversation of colonialism. In the article Liz said “if outdoor educators are able both to create a non-judgemental atmosphere and to ensure adequate time and space for students to feel and think, they will be putting in place at least some of the resources that learners require in order to bear the fracturing and mending that come with difficult learning” (p. 41).  I agree with this 100%. If my teacher would have sat and talked to us about the real facts of colonialism or introduced Indigenous Ways of Knowing in any extent we could have used our canoe time pondering.

I remember spending the majority of our mornings canoeing down the river fixating on my paddle swishing through the water, looking at the cliffs, plants, waiting for a deer, owl, snake, beaver or fish to become present. I loved feeling like I was spending class time out in the wilderness. Unfortunately I was not given the opportunity to learn about the lands I was paddling through, nor did I learn


any facts about the animals or plants we floated on by. I truly believe that many teachers who are currently in the field today either do not care to connect Indigenous Ways of Knowing in classes that are not specific to their culture, or they are just unable to see the connections, thereby cannot give their students this type of information. I do believe that current university students are beginning to learn that it is important to include Indigenous Ways of Knowing in all subject matters. One day students will learn much more than how to paddle forwards and backwards on their canoe trips.



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