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Natural Curiosity

Program Advisors

Chriss Bogert, the Vice Principal of Natural Curiosity. Chriss is smiling with golden short hair in an outdoor space


Vice Principal

Chriss Bogert is a guest on Turtle Island and is the Vice Principal at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Lab School. She was formally the Teacher Librarian at JICS and is dedicated to teaching students about social and environmental justice issues using a critical literacy and inquiry approach. Chriss was one of the assisting writers and editors of both editions of the Natural Curiosity resource.

Richard Messina, the Principal of Natural Curiosity. Richard is smiling with short dark hair and a pair of glasses in front of a brick background



Richard Messina is Principal of the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study (JICS) Laboratory School at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), which aims to explore what is possible in education and to provide insights into teaching and learning for the benefit of public school teachers and students. Prior to his appointment as Principal, Richard served as Vice Principal, Teacher, and Researcher for the JICS Lab School. He holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto and is currently a doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology and Education program at OISE.

Haley Higdon, the Managing Editor of Natural Curiosity second edition. Haley is smiling with brown long hair in front of a building


Managing Editor

Haley Higdon is the Program Director of Natural Curiosity and the Managing Editor of Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition: The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Children’s Environmental Inquiry. She oversees the implementation of professional development workshops surrounding the new edition of Natural Curiosity and liaises with environmental organizations, school boards, and teachers on inquiry-based environmental education practices. Haley is a graduate of the Master of Arts in Child Study and Education program, and is a member of the board of The Canadian Network of Environmental Education and Communication.

Lorraine Chiarotto, the author of Natural Curiosity. Lorraine is smiling with brown hair tied back and a pair of glasses in front of a window


Author of Natural Curiosity

Lorraine is the creator of the first edition of Natural Curiosity: Building Children’s Understanding of the World through Environmental Inquiry. Lorraine Chiarotto is an Ontario Certified Teacher, lover of nature, and author of the first edition of Natural Curiosity (2011). Lorraine earned her MA in Child Study and Education at the Institute of Child Study where she discovered and fell in love with inquiry-based learning. From there, she began her career as a member of the teaching staff at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School (JICS). Lorraine was appointed with the task of creating Natural Curiosity by researching, documenting, and sharing the Lab School’s environmental inquiry approach with all educators. Lorraine currently teaches at Centennial Infant and Child Centre, a preschool for children with special needs. A proud young mother, her favourite pastime is spending entire days outdoors with her two little boys… enjoying nature

Christine Higdon, the editor of Natural Curiosity second edition. Christine is smiling with short hair and a pair of glasses in front of a blue fence



Christine Higdon is the co-editor of Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition. She is an editor, graphic designer, and writer, and the author of the novel The Very Marrow of Our Bones. She was honoured to be asked work on this project.

Tracy Pryce, the editor of Natural Curiosity second edition. Tracy is smiling with long hair in an indoor space with a blue background



Tracy Pryce is co-editor of the second edition of Natural Curiosity. A freelance editor, she has contributed to various publications, manuscripts, and texts in academic, professional, and prose forms. Tracy is currently a student of the Adult Education and Community Development program (M.Ed.) at OISE, U of T, and is researching the practice and pedagogy of writing and narrative, the role of narrative as a critical tool for uniting people and communities, and the efficacy of narrative in therapy. Tracy is dedicated to the project of reconciliation in Canada and has collaborated on education projects related to the resurgence of Indigenous people with friends and colleagues Jennifer Wemigwans and Doug Anderson.

Doug Anderson, the author of the Indigenous lens on Natural Curiosity. Doug is demonstrating in a small field of plants in front of a building


Author of the Indigenous Lens on Natural Curiosity

Doug (Métis) is the Creative and Strategic Director at Invert Media. He has consulted extensively on education and program development for Aboriginal communities across Canada for over 20 years. Since 2001, he has devoted much of his energy to research and writing on Indigenous histories and cultures, and translating them to contemporary education systems and media. He enjoys the challenge of designing and building new platforms for representing Indigenous knowledge, and is committed to preserving these forms of knowledge and presenting them as models for thinking and problem solving in the 21st century. Mr. Anderson worked at both the government and community levels for many years in the development and evaluation of learning programs, and has many years of front line experience in building learning and training opportunities for community members of all ages and levels of learning.

Julie Comay, the co-author of Natural Curiosity second edition. Julie is smiling with grey short hair in an outdoor space in front of a building


Co-Author of Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition

Julie Comay was a classroom teacher at the Lab School and in Toronto public schools for over 20 years and currently works with graduate education students at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute for Child Study. In 2009, she received a PhD from OISE/UT for research focused on the growth of narrative skill and social understanding in young children. As a researcher and practitioner with a strong interest in children’s play, Julie has collaborated with teachers, academic researchers, and community members to design and implement engaging literacy and math programs in Ontario elementary schools. The opportunity to work in First Nation communities in northwest Ontario with the Robertson Program for Inquiry-Based Teaching in Mathematics and Science kindled her interest in Indigenous education. She was honoured to participate in writing this new edition of Natural Curiosity.

Natural Curiosity

2nd Edition Contributors

Natural Curiosity

2nd Edition Advisory Board



Vernon Douglas (Biidaabun), Anishinaabe Elder (family from Mnjikaning). Cultural Advisor, Department of Indigenous Studies, Trent University (2000-2011, retired). Founding member of Indigenous Studies Ph.D Council, Trent University (1998- present). Native Education Advisor, Toronto District School Board (1991-2000). Program Director, Sacred Circle Native Education Program, Edmonton Public Schools (1981- 1985). Classroom teacher, West Parry Sound Board of Education (1969-1981).


Assistant Professor in Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, OISE

Jennifer is Anishnaabekwe (Ojibwe/Potawotami) from Wikwemikong First Nation and President of Invert Media. She is a new media producer, writer and scholar specializing in the convergence between education, Indigenous Knowledge and new media technologies. Dr. Wemigwans takes pride in working to invert the conventional use of media by revealing the potential for Indigenous cultural expression and Indigenous knowledge through new technologies, education and the arts. Her work in academia and in the private sector puts her in a unique position to tap the pulse of innovation in Indigenous education and media. To view her work please visit To learn more about Indigenous Knowledge on the Internet look for her peer-reviewed book, A Digital Bundle, released in the fall of 2018 by University of Regina Press.


Former JICS Lab School Teacher and Director of The Robertson Program for Math & Science Inquiry

Bev Caswell is the Director of the Robertson Program for Inquiry-based Teaching in Science and Mathematics and works collaboratively with educators in Ontario to design inquiry-based learning environments for children that promote equity and a deeper understanding of math and science concepts. She is an Associate Member of the Centre for Urban Schooling at OISE and one of the founding coordinators of OISE’s Inner City Option in the Initial Teacher Education Program. She completed her doctoral research focusing on equity in mathematics. During her time at OISE, she acted as Teacher Liaison for the Inclusive Schools Project, a collaboration between OISE and the Toronto District School Board. Bev is currently involved in the Math for Young Children Project in the Rainy River District School Board and Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. Bev has ten years experience as an elementary school classroom teacher, and ten years experience in teacher education.


Assistant Professor of Indigenous Education, OISE

Sandra is of Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk), English and French descent and resides on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. Dr. Styres is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Education with the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Sandra’s research interests specifically focus on various aspects of Indigenous education that include: decolonizing Land-centered approaches to Indigenous pedagogies and teaching practices; literacies of Land; teacher-student interactions, learning through various modalities, and the pedagogical implications of those modalities; issues concerning social justice, racism and construction of race in teaching and learning contexts; integration of Indigenous teaching and learning in higher education with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students; pre-service and in-service teacher development; Indigenous philosophies and knowledges; culturally aligned methodologies and theoretical approaches to Indigenous research; Indigenous and non-Indigenous research collaborations; as well as addressing issues of ethics and protocols that guide the work between Indigenous peoples, communities, and universities.


Senior Kindergarten Teacher, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School

Carol Stephenson has practiced inquiry-based approach to learning over the past 20 years. Her goal is to constantly find better ways to deepen and make explicit the growth of her students’ understanding. Fascinated by how young children play, think and learn, her work has been featured in Canada’s largest newspaper, as well as in both publications of Natural Curiosity. Her most recent publication, (co-authored with Diane Tepylo) is an article for the journal Young Children on exemplary block programs and the development of spatial reasoning. Ms. Stephenson has been invited to speak at conferences and schools in Canada, the United States, China, India and Japan.


Donna Chief has worked in the field of Aboriginal Education her entire career. With 24 years of experience, she has extensive experience working and living in the culture of Aboriginal people.


Jean-Paul Restoule is Anishinaabe and a member of the Dokis First Nation. He is Professor and Chair of Indigenous Education at the University of Victoria. Jean-Paul’s research is concerned with Indigenizing and decolonizing teacher education; supporting Indigenous student success; Indigenous pedagogy in online learning environments, and Indigenous research methodologies and ethics. Jean-Paul recently served as Indigenous curriculum lead for an innovative online course for First Nations school Principals and was the founding curator of, an effort to infuse Indigenous peoples’ histories, knowledges and pedagogies into all levels of education. Jean-Paul is the instructor of, a MOOC examining how Indigenous perspectives can benefit all learners.


Angela Nardozi is a guest on Turtle Island, whose family came to this land from Italy. Her passion for working alongside Indigenous communities began in 2008, after living in a Treaty Three First Nation and listening to the stories of the youth about their educational aspirations. In 2016, Angela completed her Ph.D. at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, with a focus on Indigenous content in teacher education. Her research was informed by her work with over 6000 teacher candidates while she was the Project Manager of OISE’s Deepening Knowledge Project from 2011 to 2016. A trained educator and a dynamic speaker, Angela has delivered numerous workshops to students from kindergarten to grade 12. She is now a consultant and coach, and the author of Listen & Learn, a popular newsletter/blog supporting educators teaching Indigenous content with resources, ideas and critical questions.


Katherine Hensel is a Secwepemc lawyer and the principal lawyer with Hansel Barristers. Hansel Barristers represents First Nations and their members, as well as Indigenous organizations in a variety of litigations proceedings, including civil litigation, child welfare trials and appeals, human rights complaints, judicial reviews, treaty and Aboriginal rights disputes, select criminal cases, Coroners’ Inquests, and public inquiries, including British Columbia’s Missing and Murdered Women’s inquiry (as counsel for Native Women’s Association of Canada) and the Ipperwash Inquiry (as Assistant Commission Councel). She was co-counsel for the Attawapiskat First Nation in that community’s Federal Court application concerning third party management. Katherine has three children: Sam, Tom, and Hazel.


Jason is an Ojibwe man from Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation. He has taught himself Ojibwe. Lately he’s been helping to create a puppet show, in the the evening, that is all in Ojibwe. Creating resources for second language learners of Ojibwe has been his main goal since he started teaching. Jason has been teaching Ojibwe at Rainy River District School Board since he was 24, and his goals has been to try to create #Languagewarriors that involves youth and anyone who wants to help revitalize Ojibwe language.


Program Support Teacher, Seven Generations Education Institute

Shelly Jones is a Program Support Teacher with the First Nation Student Success Program at Seven Generations Education Institute in Fort Frances, ON. This program supports five First Nation schools (K-12) with literacy, numeracy, and student retention initiatives. She grew up on Anishinaabeg of Naongashiing which is located on beautiful Lake of the Woods.  She has a love for the Ojibwe language and continues to learn more about her culture and history. She loves spending time with her husband Mike and their three children; Breanna, Madeline, and Jack. Shelly and her husband are also proud grandparents to Delaina.


Angela grew up in Couchiching First Nation and spent most of her time at her family’s homestead in the north arm of Rainy Lake. In addition to being educated on the land and water by her parents and extended family, she attended provincial schools for elementary and secondary, went to college at Confederation College in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and is currently in university while working at the Rainy River District School Board for Seven Generations Education Institute as the Indigenous Education Leader. Angela has worked in the Indigenous education field her entire career and hopes to continue to do so as this is where her passion lies.


Deborah McGregor is an Associate Professor in Aboriginal Studies and Geography. She is an Anishnaabe from Wiigwaskingaa (Whitefish River First Nation, Birch Island, Ontario). She is an educator and trainer at both the university and community levels. Her focus is on Indigenous knowledge in relation to the environment. She is also an environmental consultant for various Ontario First Nations organizations. McGregor’s research is in the area of Aboriginal environmental and resource management. The approach she takes is interdisciplinary, and includes such topics as: environmental health, water quality, environmental assessment, sustainability, sustainable forest management, environmental planning, Indigenous knowledge and traditional knowledge (TK). McGregor’s research focus has for the last few years centred on four areas: Indigenous knowledge in an urban context; Indigenous knowledge with a focus on gendered knowledge; Indigenous perspectives on water quality/quantity; and Indigenous research approaches. A core aspect of her work involves combining research and teaching in areas such as Indigenous education, health, Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous pedagogies and research approaches.


Sharla MacKinnon is currently the Vice Principal for a K-8 school in Northwestern Ontario.  She is inspired by building relationships that will ‘ignite the spirit of learning’ within her students, staff and community.  Prior to her current role, she was the Elementary Numeracy Facilitator for the Rainy River District School Board. Her love of learning combined with her passion for math motivated her to engage more parental involvement and excitement in this area. She is the proud mom of 2 young mathematicians.


Debra Cormier is currently seconded to the Ministry of Education as Team Lead for the Leadership and Implementation Branch of the Literacy Numeracy Secretariat. Debra has nine year’s experience as a Supervisory Officer in the York Catholic District School Board, in three different portfolios: Curriculum and Assessment, Human Resources, and School Leadership. Debra was also principal for 13 years in three different YCDSB schools, and was honoured to be recognized as Principal of the Year in 2001 by the Catholic Principals Council of Ontario. Debra’s current areas of interest include system alignment and coherence, leaders as learners, and capacity building with a focus on First Nation, Métis and Inuit education.


Andrea Russell was the Project Lead for the Environmental Education Initiative at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School. Andrea is a graduate of the Master of Arts in Child Study and Education program. Prior to joining the EE Initiative at the Laboratory School, she worked as a Grade 1/2 teacher at Tawingo College in Huntsville, Ontario where there was a large focus on environmental and outdoor education.

Educators Who Contributed Their Stories

Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition


Junior/Senior Kindergarten, Fraser Mustard Early Learning Academy, Toronto District School Board (TDSB)


Junior/Senior Kindergarten, Mine Centre School, Rainy River District School Board (RRDSB). In collaboration with Sara Empey, Glenda Potson, and Gail Jones


Senior Kindergarten – French Immersion, Elmdale Public School, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB)


Junior/Senior Kindergarten, McMurrich Junior Public School, Toronto District School Board (TDSB)


Grade 1, The Grove Community School, Toronto District School Board (TDSB)


Grade 3, The Grove Community School, Toronto District School Board (TDSB)


Senior Kindergarten, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School


Grade 1, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School


Grade 2, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School


Grade 3, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School



Grade 3/4, Johnny Therriault School, Aroland First Nation

Grade 4, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School


Grade 5, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School


Grade 6, Rideau Heights Public School, Limestone District School Board (LDSB)


Grade 5/6, Belfountain Public School, Peel District School Board (PDSB)

Educators Who Contributed Their Stories

Natural Curiosity 1st Edition


Senior Kindergarten, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School


Grade 3, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School


Junior/Senior Kindergarten, Victoria Village Public School, Toronto District School Board (TDSB)


Junior/Senior Kindergarten, The Grove Community School, Toronto District School Board (TDSB)


Grade 1/2, Rose Avenue Public School, Toronto District School Board (TDSB)


Grade 2, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School


Grade 5/6, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School


Grade 4, Victoria Village Public School, Toronto District School Board (TDSB)


Grade 2/3, The Grove Community School, Toronto District School Board (TDSB)


Grade 4/5, Rose Avenue Public School, Toronto District School Board (TDSB)


Grade 5, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB)

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