Only two weeks ago my team completed Natural Pod’s first Indigenous Learners Ideabook, and I couldn’t be more pleased. It’s been a while in the making and the end result allows us to share some fantastic Indigenous learning spaces, the stories behind them and why as a company we deeply support and advocate for the cultural and environmental values of Indigenous communities.
During the last fortnight I’ve understandably been asked a few times; ‘Why have you created an Indigenous Learners Ideabook? And why now?’
Well, I’m so glad you asked! Speaking directly to Natural Pod’s baked-in values and commitments is one of my favorite subjects. It’s my work, my team’s work, and it means everything to us.
At this moment Natural Pod has completed over 40 Indigenous learning environments over a span of several years, mainly in Canada, and mainly in British Columbia, where we are also based. This company started from humble beginnings when I became a mother myself; my initial commitment to my own children to provide healthy, safe and sustainable play objects and spaces, soon expanded into a mission to create healthy, safe and sustainable learning environments where all children could thrive.
The element of ‘sustainability’ being at the core of the company’s inception is the direct link here as to why we’ve created this Indigenous Learners Ideabook. Sustainability is built into everything we do, and alongside our deep commitment to creating supportive, healthy educational environments we have an equally deep commitment to our social and environmental responsibilities. It makes sense that some of the most meaningful learning space projects to us are those that are values aligned, where we feel we are meaningfully contributing to a shared vision of what makes a safe, healthy, and inspiring learning environment – and often times those are Indigenous learning environments. We’ve therefore been thinking about creating an Ideabook specifically for Indigenous communities for some time, and it’s been over many years that meaningful relationships have been built that have in turn contributed to this Ideabook. We’re really proud of it, and my team and I hope it offers clarity around what we do, why we do it, and what we can offer that can make a difference to educational experiences of both educators and learners.
During the time the Indigenous Learners Ideabook was in the process of being developed I also had the pleasure to learn more about ‘Changing engagement for Indigenous learners’ directly from Maureen Dockendorf, Early Care and Learning Strategic Consultant at the BC Ministry of Education and Denise Augustine, Director of Aboriginal Education and Learner Engagement at BC School District 79, in our fourth episode of Natural Pod™ LIVE. Both guests spoke passionately about how we can weave different perspectives and world views into our daily educational practice, creating connections for our early learners to culture, land and people. They discussed how when play is honored as the greatest teacher, it allows us to focus on early care and well-being before learning, which greatly benefits the needs of the child. They spoke of how it’s the small and ordinary moments, when weaved together, that can create such extraordinary and engaging learning experiences, for both educators and the early learners in their care.
To go even deeper into some of the factors that make up Natural Pod’s environmental and sustainability commitments, I always start by explaining our foundational focus: we truly care about our materials, where they come from, who crafted them, and what else they can be. It’s in answering these questions that led us to only use FSC® Chain of Custody Group certified wood material, which meet LEED credit standards, and ethically manufacture all our wood products in BC, Canada. FSC is the leading not-for-profit forest management certification organization; they help set the world’s most respected environmental and social standards for responsible forest resource management.
Recently we’ve been greatly saddened to learn of the logging of old growth forests that’s been taking place, particularly at Nahmint River watershed and Fairy Creek on unceded Pacheedaht First Nation territory on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. Natural Pod is strongly against such practises, and stands with The Ancient Forest Alliance; a non-profit organization working to protect British Columbia’s endangered old-growth forests and to ensure sustainable, second-growth forestry jobs. Being a company that makes wooden furniture products we only support forestry that’s sustainable, environmentally responsible and replenishable. You can read more about why we strongly oppose the logging of old growth forests here.
I hope that by sharing the values and commitments most significant to myself and my team it gives a deeper context to the organic development of the Indigenous Learners Ideabook. It’s given us great joy to put together, and we hope it offers inspiration for both creating rich learning environments and of the importance of sustainability and environmental stewardship within education.
CEO and Founder of Natural Pod™
Natural Pod is working to restore our relationship with the natural world by making products with sustainably harvested and managed forest materials. We are also working to restore our relationship with the peoples and cultures upon whose lands we live, work and play. Our team and business are located within the traditional territories of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh speaking peoples in the area also known by its settler name, Burnaby, British Columbia (BC); the lək̓ʷəŋən, Songhees, Esquimalt, W̱SÁNEĆ speaking people in the area also known by its settler name as Victoria, BC; the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh speaking people in the area also known by its settler name as Vancouver, BC and the Hul’qumi’num and SENĆOŦEN speaking peoples of the Cowichan Valley and the Gulf Islands, BC. We acknowledge and honour that the historical relationship to the land and territories of these communities continues to this day. As a learning-service organization, we recognize that we have the responsibility to work towards truth and reconciliation.