Land Shapes Who We Are

The article suggests that a “critical pedagogy of place” aims to:
(a) identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments (reinhabitation); and (b) identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (decolonization) (p.74)
1. List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.

Reinhabitation within the article

-For the Mushkegowuk people they need to know and understand their connection to land, as the article states, “connection to nature is important to children’s intellectual, emotional, social, physical and spiritual development” (p70).

-The Elders and youth went on a river field trip. The youth learned the importance of traditional ways, and how these traditional ways become an integral part of the people.

-The river is part of the people and a living connection for family now, and those who have passed on; they are buried in different areas along the river.

-The river and its inhabitants teach the youth many lessons; frogs indicate when the water is clean to drink, birds foretell a change in weather, and moose understand the Mushkegowuk’s need for food.

-The youth learn how to live off the river, and learn about key historical/traditional sites on the river trip. They explore their history, language, issues of governance, and land management.

-The youth created an audio documentary to help record all that they learned; they captured the wisdom of the elders, and immortalized their teachings.

-It was important for the Elders to teach and “restablish among the youth a sense of connection to land, culture and life” (p76).

-The Elders taught the traditional names of places, and rewrote maps reintroducing land names that have been forgotten. The youth soon leaned that every curve in the river had its own name.

-As the young people performed activities Cree words were used to describe what they were doing in this way, the youth leaned new vocabulary by physically doing the tasks. They were learning by imprinting language with actions. It’s important for the younger generations to understand and “form a linguistic connection to traditional territory” (p78).

Decolonization throughout the article

-The article states that decolonization is not just “rejecting and transforming dominant ideas” (Bowers 2001), we also need to change ways of thinking that don’t hurt people or places.

-The whole point of Elders teaching Ways of Knowing to the youth was a form of decolonization, and they taught the importance of traditional ways.

-Colonial thinking is based on money, wealth, and owning things, whereas Indigenous ways focus on nature and respect. It is important for youth to value the old ways, therefore, when the mining companies come into the communities and want to pillage the land for resources the youth need to know the full ramifications of what mining will do to the land and their way of life.

How might you adapt these ideas to considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?

-The place we live teaches and shapes us.

-We as teachers bring our own lessons from the land where we grew up, as do our students. It’s important to respect all lessons taught from the land, and come together in community to learn from each other.

-No-matter where our students are from in the world, they all have unique lessons taught by the land. We need to have welcoming classrooms for them to freely teach the lessons they have learned.

-There needs to be involvement from community members in the classroom, who respect, wonder, and love the land.

-There are inherent biases towards First Nations Peoples in our province, and we need to learn, understand, and respect their history and traditions.

-Elders need to be invited into the classroom to tell stories about the land, rivers, animals, and plants.

-More classes should take place outside; use nature as a teacher.

-Students should be involved in learning about the world around them, nature is key to everything, science, math, art, language, and music/sound.

-It’s important for students to become physically involved with their world, and have pride in what they accomplish.

-I want to have a worm box in my classroom, to teach about the soil, how worms recycle our waste food, and how important they are. Everything is equally important in our world and needs to be respected. If we don’t value nature, we don’t know the full importance of it; even mosquito’s are important as they are food for birds and dragonflies, just because we don’t like them doesn’t mean that they aren’t any more valid than we are.


Restoule., J-P., Gruner. S., Metatawabin. E. (2013). Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing. Canadian Journal of Education. 36, 2 pp. 68-86 Referenced from


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