We’ve all experienced the power of place, the moments when we’re immersed in the world around us and what’s happening there. This type of experience can have a lasting impact. As we transition from fall to winter, Sierra Club BC challenges you to connect deeper to place by reflecting on your experiences in nature and taking action to show respect and reciprocity in your relationships with the natural places in your life.
Place-based learning—the act of immersing into local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences—can happen in any environment from urban to rural and anywhere in between. Engaging in community and nature close to home helps to put down roots and strengthen your connection to the world directly around you and your family.
The WSÁNEC´ calendar has 13 moons that each mark changes in environment and daily activities, the WSÁNEC´ (Saanich) People use these changing moons to guide their seasons. This season belongs to the “NINENE—Moon of the Child,” which celebrates youthful energy and new beginnings. For the WSÁNEC´ People and in many other cultures, winter marks a time for storytelling. So, it’s no coincidence, that the NINENE moon focuses on sharing teachings with young people through storytelling and tradition to pass long winter days.
The practice of storytelling is an engaging way to share lessons and connect with people and place in meaningful ways. Share and reflect on the nature experiences you and your family have had throughout the year and strengthen your place-based connections through storytelling. Giving children the opportunity to share their own nature stories can solidify these experiences in their memory and build connections to the outdoor spaces they visit. Storytelling is also an exciting way to bring the outdoors into your home. Prompt your children with questions to get them going. You might be surprised to hear their answers! What stands out in your child’s mind can be a helpful guide for planning future activities. Gather your family and create a space for sharing and listening. And try some favourite storytelling prompts at the end of this article.
As our environment transforms during the winter, this is an opportunity to take your families outside to explore the signs of the winter. Identifying a nature space near your home and returning every few days or even every week allows your children to observe the changes taking place in the environment and gives them a set time in a familiar nature place to look forward to. Introduce these nature connection practices the next time you are at your local park, forest, backyard, schoolyard or walkways. These place-based traditions leverage local places as a learning ecosystem. Through this approach, you and your family begin to develop an understanding of communities and your role in impacting and improving local places.
Taking time to build your family’s connections with nature can move beyond nature connection practices and into specific actions during the winter season that will build reciprocity and respect into your family’s relationships with the natural world. Share with your children the things you do to care for the environment during the holiday season.
Ideas for being a steward for the natural world this winter:
• Make holiday gifts out of recycled or reused materials (rather than buying highly packaged gifts).
• Use newspaper or other reused packaging as gift wrap. Add a decorative touch with paint or markers.
• Buy and gift local products. Winter markets are a great way to track down cool local products.
Get creative with meal planning. Focus on buying food products that are local and in season.
This winter, we hope that engaging in meaningful reflection on our place in the environment continues to strengthen you and your family’s relationship with place. A strong connection to nature can help secure respect and reciprocity with the natural world.
• What’s your favourite outside place and why?
• If you could be a being in nature other than a human, what would you be?
• When you go outside, which of your senses are you most thankful to have?
• If you could experience any new part of nature, which one would you choose? Why?
• What part of nature are you most thankful for? Why?
• Tell me about a gift that nature has given you. Tell me about a gift that you could give nature.
Read more about The Saanich (WSÁNEC´) Year, including activity sheets: sites.google.com/sd63.bc.ca/sd63indigenoused/saanich-moons.
For more free resources and activities: sierraclub.bc.ca/online-classroom.