In class, we have been discussing and deconstructing the idea of wilderness. Growing up I would have described wilderness as a place with no humans, where wild animals live, and outside of the city. This class has now opened my eyes to why that view of empty of land (wilderness) is problematic.
For my creative visual I wanted to illustrate the conflicting views I was taught in school regarding outdoor education. My visual piece is a set of glasses looking at a chalkboard with the heading “OUTDOOR EDUCATION”. In one lens you see a very commonsense photo of what wilderness is and the other lens is a city skyline. I wanted to represent how schools teach us to put the economy before anything else and how nature/wilderness is treated as only an escape or place of recreation. This way of teaching is problematic because it reproduces the binaries: civil vs. wild and culture vs. nature.
In an assigned reading “Canoe Pedagogy and Colonial History: Exploring Contested Spaces of Outdoor Environmental Education” by Liz Newberry, Newberry further explains why outdoor education plays a role in reproducing and enforcing colonialism. In one line she explains that “[i]n dominant and colonial images of wilderness, Aboriginal presence is either erased or Aboriginal people are themselves recast as nature.” Thinking of my own outdoor education experiences growing up I do not remember learning about any First Nation, Metis, or Inuit people. This is a problem because it made me believe that there are empty lands and lands that have no other context than what I was seeing. Going through the education program and going to treaty education camps I have fortunately gotten to unlearn many colonial views. I look forward to continuing and sharing my education.