We recognize that all of our activities take place on unceded Indigenous lands and that the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Nation are the custodians of the lands and waters on which we gather. Tiohtiá:ke (commonly known as “Montreal”) is historically known as a gathering place for many First Nations and is home to a diverse population of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Since this territorial acknowledgement is not made explicit in most of the parks and spaces we frequent, it is crucial that we acknowledge this here and in our day-to-day work.
As a team primarily composed of white settlers, we recognize the immense privilege we have of doing work with children in urban nature. We are currently in the process of deep reflection, developing and enacting our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, and will continue to return to and revise our efforts as long as legacies of settler-colonialism and white supremacy continue to inflict violence on the original inhabitants of this land. Some of our actions include: building relationships with local Kanien’keha elders and knowledge keepers, engaging in age-appropriate discussions about settler colonialism with children, and sharing books by Indigenous authors with children and adults alike. Still, there is so much more we can do.
On Turtle Island (commonly known as North America), Forest School pedagogy and environmental values, as well as a worldview that puts children and the land at the centre, are indebted to Indigenous knowledges and practices. We acknowledge and credit these Indigenous precedents and we are grateful to the Indigenous people, authors, and artists who have generously shared their knowledge with us and other non-Indigenous people.
We still have much reconciliatory work to do within and beyond our organization in order to confront and unlearn harmful colonialist ways of relating to the land and to its original inhabitants. Our hope is that, in making space for children to have regular and repeated access to nature and unstructured play, we are helping to raise a generation that will have a greater sensitivity to the gifts of the land and to the importance of relationships. In doing this work, we believe that we are helping our community raise environmentally-conscious individuals who are empathetic, respectful, and empowered to speak out against injustice.