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New Resource Highlights Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Children’s Environmental Inquiry

March 2, 2018.

Natural Curiosity 2 Book Launch Event

Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition resource for teachers supports a stronger awareness of Indigenous perspectives and their importance to environmental education. 

The auditorium at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study was buzzing with excitement on Thursday, March 1 as the Natural Curiosity program launched its latest resource for educators, titled Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition: The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Children's Environmental Inquiry. The launch featured Indigenous voices and calls to action for educators, seamlessly interwoven in a warm, welcoming evening.

Since the release of the first edition in 2011, Natural Curiosity has gained widespread implementation in schools across the country and internationally. The driving motivation for a second edition was the burning need, in the wake of strong and unequivocal recommendations by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2015), to bring Indigenous perspectives into the heart of Canadian educational settings and curricula, most notably in connection with environmental issues.

The second edition of Natural Curiosity focuses on a stronger awareness of Indigenous approaches to environmental learning. The resource is brought to life through exemplary educator stories from across the province.

Headed by Project Lead, Haley Higdon, the Natural Curiosity program is run in collaboration with the Laboratory School at Jackman ICS, part of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Development of Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition was funded by the generous support of TD Friends of the Environment, The Norman and Marian Robertson Foundation and private donors.

In consultation with Indigenous colleagues, Doug Anderson, a writer, Indigenous educator, and Lab School parent, offers an Indigenous lens on environmental inquiry at the Lab School.  This lens focuses on four foundational branches of environmental inquiry.

Natural Curiosity 4 branches: Moving Towards Sustainability, Inquiry & Engagement, Experiential Learning, & Integrated Knowledge

Natural Curiosity's four branches of Environmental Inquiry and the related Indigenous lenses.

Quoting the resource, lab school principal Richard Messina shared that it "offers an encounter with Indigenous perspectives that challenge us to think in very different ways about our place in the world. The Indigenous lens in this edition provides a starting point in a conversation that opens educators' eyes to Indigenous perspectives as their students build lasting connections with the natural world."

Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair (St. Peter's/Little Peguis), an Associate Professor in Native Studies at the University of Manitoba, delivered a stirring keynote address which called upon the audience of educators and community members to bring children into the natural world and recognize their dynamic and reciprocal relationship with everything around them. The award-winning writer, editor and activist calls the resource "a remarkable achievement in honouring our traditions and honouring who we are as Anishinaabe People, as Indigenous Peoples on this territory."

Sinclair calls the book "revolutionary", noting that Indigenous perspectives "used to exist in the children's literature section, or fantasy, or fiction. And now, we exist in classrooms. That kind of revolutionary change can truly change the past 150 years and the path forward."

Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition: The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Children's Environmental Inquiry is currently available for purchase through the Natural Curiosity website