Connecting with Nature and learning on the Land have benefits that have long been understood by Indigenous peoples in the North. Land is inextricable from the cultures of northern peoples, and understanding the benefits of Nature for health and wellbeing comes so naturally to many of us. See a selection of quotes below that honours the interconnectedness and holism of our worldviews.
“Youth should be on the Land regularly as part of their learning and their families should be part of that learning. I can do any kind of job now, because I learned how to make things work with whatever I had; I didn’t have all the tools and parts. Everything is out there, on the Land. That’s why I take risks and started a business today. I’m not worried about losing it all, because it’s all out there. I didn’t go to school for a year when I lived in the bush. Everyone thought I would fall way behind, but when I got back, I was in grade 4 for a day, then they put me in grade 5. I got the scholastic award every year, top of my class. I even graduated early.”DONOVAN BOUCHER, ROCHER RIVER
“Relationship with Land comes with responsibility. People need Land, and Land needs people, we’re made of the same stuff. Learning on the Land should be mandatory. Giving children the chance to form a spiritual relationship with Land will serve them as a foundation for the rest of their lives. It will sustain them and it will sustain Mother Earth.”STEVEN NITAH, ŁUTSELK’E
“Identity is important to self-esteem; feeling and being a part of a bigger whole is one of the ways to build identity. Northern children with a strong sense of identity are resilient, adaptable and ultimately, will strive to seek their basic needs of connection and love. These characteristics contribute to the life goals of purpose, happiness, and fulfilment. Children who spend time in Nature are more likely to care and preserve their land and environment for themselves and for future generations.”BRENDA DRAGON, THEBACHA
From a Euro-Western systems perspective, there is a growing body of research in Western science that aligns with Indigenous knowledge and wisdom about the importance of Land. These studies have demonstrated a multitude of benefits of Land-based learning for children including:
- Improved focus during classroom periods
- Increased resilience and self-confidence
- Strengthened creativity, imagination and problem-solving
- Improved mental health
- Love for the environment, which is proven to lead to future environmental stewardship
To read more about the benefits of Land-based learning from a euro-western perspective, read The Canadian Parks Council publication Connecting Canadians with Nature.