The Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network (CBEEN) is promoting Indigenous education in a variety of ways, including through its non-profit Outdoor Learning Store and Every Child Matters Year-long Challenge. CBEEN is a regional network responsible for encouraging environmental stewardship and sustainability through widespread education.
“The outdoor learning store provides access to outdoor learning resources and equipment for educators now from coast to coast to coast,” says Duncan Whittick, Executive Director for CBEEN. “But we are really trying to focus on local place-based Indigenous resources that can help connect teachers and learners to their local land.”
The non-profit Outdoor Learning Store launched as a result of seeing a lack of service within Canada. As a “one-stop-shop,” it offers accessible outdoor learning equipment and resources to interested businesses or schools.
Jenna Jasek, District Vice Principal for Indigenous Learning and Equity for Rocky Mountain School District #6, says, “it’s all about just filling in the gap of where, where resources are needed and just to share the passion of outdoor learning and land-based learning and especially adding that Indigenous perspective.”
They are focused on increasing Indigenous awareness, surpassing the one day a year that it is nationally recognized. CBEEN has even gone so far as to begin the “Every Child Matters Year-Long Learning Challenge,” which invited groups and organizations to obtain support, encouragement, and resources, making learning about Indigenous knowledge, perspectives, history and culture an interesting, easy, and fun experience. The challenge runs from Oct. 1, 2021, until Sept. 30, 2022. Over 100 organizations that represent over 1500 staff and volunteer members have signed up.
“As people are becoming increasingly aware, the act of acknowledging the Indigenous territory/territories that you are on has become so commonplace and automated that it can often feel like it lacks sincerity or intent,” says CBEEN in week four’s email to the participants of the challenge. “While it is regarded by many as an important first step, it is very important to take the next step to ensure that this living language has deeper intentions and personal meaning.”
The first 100 organizations, schools, or businesses to join the initiative were also granted a $50 gift card to the Outdoor Learning Store, where multiple Indigenous learning resources are available for purchase.
Along with providing Indigenous school-based and individual learning resources, CBEEN is also focused on climate change. Their next workshop titled, “Creating a Safe Climate Future: An Interactive Workshop for Educators,” will be hosted on Monday, Nov. 29. It will focus on exploring strategies to combat climate change and its effects, using grounded conversations, along with the new innovative climate simulator En-ROADS. Those interested in participating can get more information or register at https://outdoorlearningstore.ca/registration-creating-a-safe-climate-future/.
Haley Grinder, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer