College, authors ‘walking together’ to educate students about appreciating nature

Students and professors gathered in Nawapon this fall to hear Elder Albert Marshall and Louise Zimanyi discuss their book, Walking Together. Marshall, who’s from the Moose Clan of the Mi’kmaw Nation, talked to the students through a Zoom call and Zimanyi, who was present in the room, educated the students about the book and the […]
Photo: Supplied by Louise Zimanyi
Elder Albert Marshall and Louise Zimanyi pose for a photo.

Students and professors gathered in Nawapon this fall to hear Elder Albert Marshall and Louise Zimanyi discuss their book, Walking Together.

Marshall, who’s from the Moose Clan of the Mi’kmaw Nation, talked to the students through a Zoom call and Zimanyi, who was present in the room, educated the students about the book and the importance of appreciating nature during the Sept. 23 event.

Students and professors sat in a circle reading different lines of the book.

Students were also given the option to pick out little stuffed animals that visually represented ancestors of the Indigenous people, with their own special sounds because there were many animal illustrations presented in the book. They were all taught the importance and meaning of each animal along with other illustrations like the rock, water and many more.

Zimanyi is a French-Canadian and an early childhood education professor at Humber College in Toronto.

She explained that the book is mainly for preschoolers, but it’s also used with early childhood education students, high schoolers and elementary students. The purpose was to explain what “two-eyed seeing” meant by being together and appreciating nature.

The book contains some Mi’kmaw words. Zimanyi explained she would have loved to include a lot more, but starting with keywords was more important.

Emily Poldem, an Algonquin College student in the bachelor of early learning community development, said her program has a nature-based course that aligns with the book. Poldem said it was a great way to know the book more intimately.

“Indigenous teaching and nature-based learning has been growing especially at Algonquin College, and so having the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the people who are experts on it, is a great opportunity,” said Poldem.

Kerry Potts, an indigenous pedagogy and curriculum consultant at Algonquin College, was also one of the organizers for the book event. She said her job is to support teachers at the college, bring Indigenous people to the college and support Indigenous education in a broader sense at the college.

“I think the impact could be that our early childhood educators could start thinking about the principle of two-eyed seeing and respecting the land and starting these programs that are land-based programs here at Algonquin College,” Potts said.

Zimanyi believes this book should be integrated into the courses of the early childhood program, as she is an advocate for land-based courses.

“If you are going to be connected to the land, you should be learning the languages of the Indigenous communities that you are with,” said Zimanyi.

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