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David Suzuki Fellowship
2023 Winners

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Megan Pham-Quan (she/her)

Masters of Child Study and Education (Primary/Junior), OISE

In their article “Muskrat theories, tobacco in the streets, and living Chicago as Indigenous land,” Megan Bang (Ojibwe, Italian), Lawrence Curley (Ojibwe, Dine), Adam Kessel (Lakota, Italian, German), Ananda Marin (African American, Choctaw, European American), Eli S. Suzukovich III (Little Shell Chippewa-Cree), and George Strack (Miami) write about centring Indigenous epistemologies and ontologies by (re)storying their relationships to their local places, “as altered, impacted, yet still, always Indigenous lands—whether we are in currently ceded urban territory or not” (Bang et al., 2014, p. 38). Over the course of Megan Pham-Quan’s two years in a teacher education program based in Tkaronto on the territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples, this commitment to being in relationship with our environments as Indigenous lands has grounded the development of her environmental education practice.
Chelsea Vowel (Métis) writes that territorial acknowledgements began as powerful practices of disrupting settler colonialism and Indigenous invisibilization, but in many contexts, have been diluted into formulaic recitations. In a grade 2/3 practicum, Megan witnessed this dilution as she watched students play acting during a morning reading of the TDSB land acknowledgement. Recognizing that these students needed further opportunities to reflect on their relationships with the land and with histories of colonial land theft and violence, Megan then created space for students to think relationally about the practice of land acknowledgements using Native Land Digital Map and to gain a greater understanding of Indigenous Land-based knowledges, drawing from Eli Enns’ (Nuu-chah-nulth) stories about living in reciprocity with the land. 
In her next practicum in a kindergarten classroom, Megan extended ongoing explorations in eco-activism with an inquiry rooted in Indigenous-led water advocacy movements. This inquiry began by reading “The Water Walker” by Joanne Robertson (AnishinaabeKwe, Atikameksheng Anishnawbek) and learning about Nokomis Josephine Mandamin (Odawa, Wikwemikong First Nation) who walked around the Great Lakes to call for action against water pollution. Following a question from a student about the imagery of the turtle in the book, the classroom community explored the Turtle Island creation story through a retelling by the Onondaga Historical Association, speaking specifically to the relations of care between Sky Woman and the animals. In bringing together our learnings, the classroom community created a water banner to be displayed in the classroom where students shared their calls to action. 
As Megan continues to grow her environmental education and inquiry-based pedagogy, a self-identified area of growth is to unfold environmental education inquiries outside on the land, recognizing the unparalleled learning that occurs when students build relationships with the Land, and to continue building understandings of our environments as Indigenous lands and waters.

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Ian Pinnell (he/him)

Masters of Teaching, Junior/Intermediate, OISE

Ian is a passionate educator who believes that environmental education needs to be at the core of teaching today. He strives to help his students explore complex social and environmental issues with a focus on hope, agency, and action.

Born in Pickering, land that is covered by the Williams Treaties with the Mississauga and Chippewa Nations, Ian currently lives and teaches in Toronto on the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat. As a white settler educator, he is committed to working with his students to interrogate colonial systems and ways of knowing, respectfully learn from Indigenous knowledges, and explore ways that we can better uphold our treaty obligations to the Land and to one another.

Ian takes every opportunity to get his students outside, learning in and about the environment surrounding their schools. During his practicum placements, he used mindfulness nature walks, inquiry hikes examining the Indigenous histories of Toronto’s waterways, wildflower planting in Toronto ravines, and outdoor math trails with his middle school students to have them learn more about, and feel more comfortable in, the naturalized spaces in their communities. Through his OISE research, he examined the impact of garden-based learning with high school students. His action research project explored how the hands-on, experiential, and inquiry-based learning in the garden helped students to feel a sense of agency as environmental stewards. As an outdoor educator with the TDSB Toronto Outdoor Education Schools, he takes students outside each day to foster a sense of wonder, reciprocity, respect, and love that will support further learning and action.

For more inspiration, read all past Suzuki Winner Stories here.

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