Merging western science with traditional Indigenous knowledge
Canadian youth don’t often have the opportunity to take their classroom outside their school’s four walls.
But now, thanks to Learning the Land, a native prairie conservation pilot program administered by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in Saskatchewan, students across the province are heading out into the field.
Educator Carol Crowe is working with NCC and Treaty 4 Education Alliance on the program, which began in 2015 and is delivered by the Treaty 4 Education Alliance in 11 schools across southern Saskatchewan. Dovetailing with the science curriculum, the program focuses on traditional, cultural and scientific aspects of species at risk and native prairie in both the classroom and field settings.
Crowe recently spent a day with a high school class at Kawacatoose First Nation, where they discussed careers in conservation. Indigenous communities and elders, Crowe says, have years of knowledge from working with the land. If the participants take that knowledge into the conservation field, she believes it will be an important step in working with the environment.
Participants of the program also consider the current challenges of sound land management and how urban and rural community residents can work together to conserve wildlife habitat and sustain a diversity of wildlife species. More than 100 students, teachers, Elders, scientists and NCC staff are involved in this initiative. Participants are also invited to join Conservation Volunteers days with NCC in Saskatchewan throughout the warmer months.
Funders for the Learning the Land program include Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk Program and the Province of Saskatchewan’s First Nations Community Engagement Project Fund.