David Suzuki Fellowship
Maria del Carmen Farquharson (she/her)
Bachelor of Education (Primary/Junior), Waaban Indigenous Teacher Education Program – York University
Maria del Carmen (she/her) is a guest in Turtle Island and a descendant of the Indigenous Quechua nations of the Andes. She lives and studies on the traditional territories of the ancestral Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Confederacy land as determined by the Dish with One Spoon treaty. She will be graduating from the Bachelor of Education program, Waaban Indigenous education cohort (Primary/Junior) at York University. Before her studies at York, she spent the majority of her life as an educator for students of all ages across South America. After arriving in Canada, she was determined to gain the Canadian credentials to continue teaching and continued her formal education.
During her years as an educator in South America, Maria del Carmen implemented individualized programs with her students to become self-directed learners and to gain first hand experience with the lands, animals, and plants around them, and to learn to respect nature. She directed her students to learn from the land by growing organic vegetable gardens, composting, having companion plants growing together, and observing nature changing through the seasons. She is motivated to continue to nurture within her students a love for learning about the land and community they are in, and the desire to become responsible stewards of Mother Earth.
Alexandra (“Sandra”) Dukarm (she/her)
Bachelor of Education, Cowichan Campus of Vancouver Island University (VIU)
Sandra Dukarm is a recent Bachelor of Education graduate from the Cowichan Campus of Vancouver Island University (VIU). She feels extremely privileged to live, continue to learn and work in the unceded territories of the Quw’utsun Peoples.
Throughout her life, Sandra has held a deep passion for the outdoors and learning about the natural world. As a child, when she wasn’t reading, she spent summer days at the seashore, wondering about and discovering treasures that washed in with the tide. Nowadays, outside of the classroom, she can be found enjoying hikes around the Cowichan Valley with her family and two dogs.
As a pre-service teacher at VIU, Sandra’s eyes were opened to the rich world of Indigenous Science while taking part in one of her favourite courses, Elementary Science Curriculum and Instruction. She realized that the holistic and reciprocal nature of Indigenous Science balanced and blended beautifully with the frequently more rigid and stereotypical approach of Western Science.
During her practicum placements, Sandra engaged her young learners through her passionate approach to guided inquiries and outdoor learning. She used the local Hul’q’umi’num language of the Quw’utsun Peoples throughout her lessons across all curriculum areas.
During her 4th-year practicum placement, she found that taking nature walks through the adjoining forest with her kindergarten class was the most impactful learning opportunity. They would take time to observe the local natural environment with all their senses. Immersion in the fresh air and nature grounded students for the rest of the day.
During her final certifying practicum in Grade 1 at Queen Margaret’s School, she nurtured an equitable and inclusive learning environment while infusing her teachings with the First Peoples’ Principles of Learning. One of her most memorable Science lessons involved creating a personalized class land acknowledgement, which tied into Indigenous Perspectives and the theme of Earth Day. She and her students reflected on the natural aspects they most loved around the area they were learning, focusing on all the senses. After generating a huge mind map, all the students’ ideas were put together into a unique statement to post in the classroom, honouring the traditional unceded territory of the Quw’utsun Peoples. Students then worked independently, writing and illustrating land acknowledgements on the place they lived. As a culminating activity, the Grade 1s joined a sharing circle to read their special land acknowledgements aloud.
As a new Kindergarten teacher, Sandra is excited to continue her teaching journey at Queen Margaret’s School in Duncan. She will continue to incorporate her passion for inclusive, experiential, nature- and place-based learning and First Peoples’ Principles of Learning and indigenous perspectives throughout her practice. She hopes to have the opportunity in the future to pursue a graduate degree in elementary outdoor science.