It’s the way of the future at BC universities.
Cowichan Tribes Elders taught a land-based sustainability course at VIU Cowichan and it was meant to enhance connections to the land, gain a deeper appreciation for the culture of local First Nations and pass these experiences on.
Brianna Thorne took the course and gave us a taste of what it was all about.
“We would meet weekly with Elders and knowledge-keepers and have experiences, everything from cedar-weaving to canoe-pulling, to doing solo days on the land, where you’re basically dropped in a remote area and be one with yourself and nature for the day,” said Thorne. “We did a lot of self-reflection and self-discovery and every week was a little different, but it was always with an Indigenous focus.”
Thorne is going to experience, first-hand, the new Indigenous teacher education curriculum at the Duncan campus.
She has two years left in the Bachelor of Education program at the local university and is excited to learn more about the languages, cultures, and perspectives of Indigenous peoples.
Thorne said this program will be invaluable.
“It offers such a unique perspective that most people wouldn’t know and it actually helps to bridge some gaps of understanding between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in our community,” said Thorne. “It helps create better relationships, stronger relationships, and I think moving forward as a teacher, the Indigenous student population is increasing (it’s the fastest growing population in Canada) and having some sensitivity and some awareness around their cultural needs is important.”
The province has invested $65,000 dollars into 15 teacher training seats at VIU Cowichan to help ensure more teachers are trained to bring the perspectives of Indigenous people into the classroom.