Educational Reconciliation: Implementing Traditional Land-Based Learning in Canadian Universities


  • Nina Maikaela Obiar University of Calgary
  • Rayen Morales Urrutia


Indigenous groups across Turtle Island are often marginalized in the creation of contemporary theories and policies, creating a knowledge gap of the traditional Indigenous ways of teaching and knowing in academia. Land-based learning encompasses the ways of knowing of Indigenous groups and when implemented as part of the ii' taa'poh'to'p, the University of Calgary Indigenous Strategic Plan promotes the decolonization of current pedagogies and the understanding of the importance of land to Indigenous peoples. We aimed to decolonize a university course through land-based learning and bridging the gap between Western and Indigenous knowledge while remaining respectful of Indigenous protocols and inflicted traumas by settler-colonial goals to extract knowledge from their communities. This study sought to research how land-based learning could be implemented into an Indigenous Studies course on animal-human relationships at the University of Calgary. Through a qualitative study of peer-reviewed sources predominantly written by Indigenous authors, we found common themes on how we could implement land-based learning into the course. Based on our findings, we proposed a three-part learning module. Firstly, the students should be introduced to the topic of land-based learning before attempting a land-based activity. Secondly, we suggest the incorporation of a land-based activity led by an Indigenous Knowledge Holder or Elder. Lastly, the learning module should be finalized with a class discussion and self-reflection assignment to provide students with the opportunity to solidify their learning. As Canada moves to reconcile a broken relationship with Indigenous groups and the Earth, the integration of traditional ways of knowing promotes the resurgence of Indigenous ways of being in education.