TORONTO, Indigenous Territory-Aki
Toronto has been a site of human activity for 15,000 years. The land is the territory of the Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. The territory was the subject of the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and Confederacy of the Anishinaabe and allied nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. Today, the meeting place of Toronto is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island. Natural Curiosity is grateful to be learning and working in this territory.
Revised by the Elders Circle (Council of Aboriginal Initiatives, First Nations House, University of Toronto) on November 6, 2014.
Haley Higdon is a guest on Turtle Island and is the Director for Natural Curiosity. She has her BEd and MA in Child Study and Education from the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study at UofT. She has spent the last three years working as the managing editor for the development and creation of Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition: The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Children’s Environmental Inquiry. Haley has extensive experience in supporting educators with incorporating environmental inquiry into their practice.
A place in the natural world that Haley feels most connected to:
Most recently, Haley feels connected to the backyard of her childhood home. It began as a rectangular plot of grass and over time her mother slowly transformed it into a wild space with indigenous plants to attract pollinators, local birds, and wildlife. The recent death of her mother has brought Haley back to this place to reflect on its transformation over the years. It has reminded her that connections to the natural world are possible in the heart of the city and there are ways to give back to our non-human relatives even in the smallest of backyards.
Interim Program Director
Brenda is a guest on Turtle Island and is the Interim Program Director for Natural Curiosity. Brenda has extensive experience in child advocacy, social justice and environmental planning. For the past 10 years, Brenda has been supporting educators to incorporate play, nature and the outdoors into life and learning in schools. Brenda has a deep appreciation for Indigenous perspectives on education.
A place in the natural world that Brenda feels most connected to:
For over 30 years, Brenda has been returning to a beloved place her family and friends call Overneath, a beautiful forest perched over O’Brien Lake in Lanark County and ‘neath the star-lit sky. Overneath is located in the traditional territories of the Alqonquin people.
Rosa Na is a guest on Turtle Island and is the Program Coordinator for Natural Curiosity. She has an educational background in Environmental Science, Ecological Conservation, and Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto, and experience working in solidarity with Indigenous communities around issues of environmental change and activism.
A place in the natural world that Rosa feels most connected to:
The winding, uphill alleyway that leads to my childhood home in the countryside of Cheongju, Korea. We always took this way home because it was the brightest moonlit path in our village. I would skip, hop, and play with my shadow with my dad holding one hand and my mom holding the other. I remember the smell of the wind blowing from the surrounding mountains—she was always there. The feeling of home started at this alleyway. And nothing parallels the feeling of going home, feeling perfectly safe in the night.
Environmental Program Coordinator
Danielle Marcoux-Hunter is a guest on Turtle Island and is the Program Coordinator for Natural Curiosity. She has her MASc and HBSc in conservation biology and environmental sciences, and her Environmental Technician diploma. She has worked for multiple organizations to design and facilitate environmental programs for students from school boards across the Greater Toronto Area. Danielle brings her knowledge and passion for biodiversity, stewardship, and youth inspiration to the NC team.
Describe a place in our natural world that you feel connected to.
That first glimpse of Canadian Shield along the highway driving north. My family lived up north when I was a toddler. Although I have lived the majority of my life in Toronto, whenever I revisit the boreal forest along the Canadian Shield I feel a sense of ‘home’. The slippery, mossy, and sometimes icy stone greets me from below while majestic white pines stand tall above the rest of the forest, smiling down to welcome me back.