Pilot course will strengthen Indigenous students’ social and emotional wellbeing through nature education
MISSISSAUGA, December 9, 2020 – Through a grant of over $70,000, the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) will back the creation of a nature-based education program that aims to foster social and emotional resilience in secondary students who self-identify as Indigenous.
The pilot project will see the development and delivery of a summer school class at Riverwood in July 2021 that is tailored for Indigenous youth enrolled in Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) secondary schools. This date is subject to change based on the evolving situation around COVID-19. Students facing social and emotional challenges will benefit from teachings from an Indigenous Knowledge Keeper, nature-based practices that help manage stress, and mentor relationships that build confidence.
The program is a collaborative initiative of The Riverwood Conservancy (TRC), DPCDSB, and the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM).
“We’re thrilled that the natural spaces and wildlife habitat we’ve helped preserve at Riverwood can be utilized as a unique outdoor classroom that will have a lasting and positive impact on Indigenous youth in our community,” says Douglas Markoff, Executive Director of The Riverwood Conservancy.
The initial course will host 26 students, with more anticipated in subsequent years should the course become an ongoing program. Additionally, four undergraduate students from the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) will participate in the program as mentors.
The 110-hour course will take place at Riverwood, a 150-acre nature preserve situated in Mississauga. Course content will be developed cooperatively by an Indigenous Knowledge Keeper, TRC, UTM, and DPCDSB, with guidance from the Board’s Indigenous Education Advisory Council.
About The Riverwood Conservancy
The Riverwood Conservancy is the charity that provides programs and direction for Riverwood – the 150-acre, urban nature preserve situated on the shores of the Credit River in Mississauga. Working together with like-minded groups and individuals, our mission is to enable people of all cultures, ages, and abilities to respectfully connect with nature and learn about the importance of protecting, conserving and restoring natural spaces for the well-being of future generations – all while experiencing the beauty of the Riverwood gardens.
About the Ontario Trillium Foundation
The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded $115 million to 644 projects in 2019 to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.