The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Urban Indigenous Education Center has announced that it will use the Boyne Natural Science School site in Niagara to open an Indigenous land-based learning site.
In a release, he said he consulted the Council of Elders for guidance and that the trustees unanimously supported the initiative during the board meeting on Wednesday night.
The site of the Boyne Natural Science School is located on 308.5 acres of the Niagara Escarpment adjacent to the Bruce Trail and Boyne River Provincial Park. It is on land that has been designated as an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI). It has been vacant since 2003.
TDSB has been working for four years to gain access to land classified as “escarpment natural” under the Niagara Escarpment Plan. In 2020, royal assent was obtained by the TDSB to re-designate it for institutional use for “indigenous use and passive recreational use of cultural significance”.
The Indigenous land-based learning site will offer programming that “focuses on holistic Indigenous health and wellness (physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual) in support of Indigenous student success.”
“This will also include professional education, community engagement, participation, curriculum resource development and innovation, research and development, and reconciliation through indigenous approaches,” the board said.
Initially, one or two classes will be in place at a time and in the future, it is expected that the site will be relocated to allow larger groups to participate in day and night programming, when the pandemic allows. .
“The opening of Boyne Natural Science School as an Indigenous land-based learning site demonstrates the importance of Indigenous education in TDSB schools,” said TDSB Education Director Colleen Russell-Rollins. “We are committed to honoring the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Call to Action and creating additional opportunities for students to learn from Indigenous perspectives and teachings on the land.”
Site visits are expected in mid-2022.