The Biosphere Institute is making it easy for teachers to teach about wildlife and climate change, with an emphasis on Indigenous perspectives and student conservation action.
Despite their local, national and international importance, human-wildlife coexistence, climate change and reconciliation are all difficult topics to teach. The Biosphere Institute seeks to provide teachers access to teaching materials that are clearly tied to the Alberta provincial curriculum and that are informed by both Western science and traditional knowledge.
We have created a framework of curricular connections, which explicitly identify ways to teach Alberta science and social studies K-9 learning outcomes through a wildlife or climate change lens, infusing both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives. At each grade level, our curricular connections pair classroom-based learning that builds student knowledge with a discrete outdoor action project that builds practical skills.
We are also piloting peer-to-peer learning opportunities between students in Banff, Canmore, and the Stoney Nakoda First Nation. In collaboration with Canadian Rockies Public Schools and Stoney Nakoda Knowledge Keepers, we bourght grade 5 students together for a Bear Sharing Day in Bow Valley Provincial Park in June 2019. Students taught each other about the cultural and ecological significance of bears, created art with a Stoney elder, told stories and played games.
Ultimately, we envision a youth population that is informed about and engaged in human-wildlife coexistence and climate change solutions, that is sensitive to Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures and ways of knowing, and that carries an ethic of personal responsibility forward to a wider audience of peers and neighbours.