Guiding principles and values

EcoWisdom Land Acknowlegement:

We would like to acknowledge that the EcoWisdom Forest Preserve is located within the traditional territory of the Algonquin peoples, who occupied and cared for this land thousands of years before European contact. The Algonquin, along with several other related Indigenous groups, compose the larger Anishinaabe cultural and linguistic family, which extends throughout the modern-day Northeastern United States and Central Canada. EcoWisdom is located within the confines of the 1923 Williams treaty and lies at the centre of the area of the Algonquin land claim, an area of 36,000 square kilometres, with 1.2 million residents.

We acknowledge that we are guests on this land and are grateful for the stewardship and contributions of Indigenous peoples. We commit to practices of land stewardship, decolonization and reconciliation through our programs, content, and vision.

Land Acknowledgement for EcoWisdom Nature Connection & Education Programming:

We begin each session by acknowledging that those of us in Southern Ontario, live upon land that is protected by the Dish with One Spoon agreement, which is a peace agreement between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe nations. The concept of the dish with one spoon teaches the importance of reciprocity, land stewardship and respect for diversity. We are grateful for the stewardship and contributions of the Indigenous peoples whose traditional territory we live on, including the Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe in Toronto, and the Anishinaabe in the area Algonquin Park where the EcoWisdom Forest Preserve if located. We also extend our gratitude to Indigenous peoples beyond Ontario and Canada. Our efforts aim to work towards reconciliation by opening up conversations about Indigenous topics, incorporating Indigenous voices into programming, and encouraging participants to enter into reciprocal relationship with the land.

Our work integrates the sociological, psychological and spiritual with the biological and ecological. The EcoWisdom approach values the wisdom that exists within natural systems such as rewilding/natural regeneration that can help restore equilibrium and equanimity.

We value Indigenous knowledge. We believe that through a foundational relationship with nature characterized by respect, care, reverence, reciprocity and receptivity, we can obtain guidance to address essential questions. We are learning ways to bring an Indigenous lens to the science of biology and value all that we have gained from Indigenous leaders such as Robin Wall Kimmerer, an author and Distinguished Professor of Environmental Biology who is also a member of the Potawatomi Nation.

Our approach is informed by the science of Forest Medicine. Researchers such as Dr. Qing Li and Dr. Yoshifumi Miyazaki have demonstrated that bringing a contemplative approach to time in nature can result in emotional and physical health benefits while promoting social well-being. For example, research has documented that time in nature can reduce stress hormones, blood pressure and ruminating thoughts and leave people happier, more hopeful and with greater empathy for others and the natural world.

We integrate neuroscience, psychology, mindfulness or contemplation into our activities. The founders of EcoWisdom Forest Preserve have witnessed personal and collective transformation among teens and their teachers during programming located in the sub-artic. Participants were offered lessons in human neuroscience alongside guided mindfulness practices as they engaged in citizen environmental science activities involving polar bears, beluga whales and tundra species. The founders bring to EcoWisdom, this work and years of experience in the fields of teaching, community development, academic research, inter-faith spiritual direction and mindfulness instruction. While we do not offer psychotherapy, we do bring an awareness of trauma-sensitive mindfulness practice.

As stewards of a forest preserve, we make efforts to live a sustainable lifestyle. We live in anoff-grid (no electricity) cabin where we utilize technologies such as rainwater collection tanks and solar power. This cabin is located on site where we can live out our commitment to be protectors and stewards of the EcoWisdom Forest Preserve with its many plants and animals.

The EcoWisdom Forest Preserve is home to many “beings” including wolves, moose, deer, elk, bear, beaver and pine martins. We also share this land with many birds such as hawks, grouse and barred owls; amphibians including yellow-spotted salamanders, frogs and toads; and a wide variety of plants, mosses and lichen species. We care for thousands of trees including oak, maple, white pine, fir, yellow birch and beech.

We have completed a comprehensive Forest Management Plan. With the support of a professional forester, this plan has been filed with the Ministry of Natural Resources. The EcoWisdom Forest Preserve consists of 200-acres, with another 100 acres of adjacent crown land. In addition to two wetlands, multiple streams and a river it has unique geological formations and lookout points.

We prioritize the protection of animal habitat and the prevention of invasive species introduction. For these reasons, we encourage participation in online offerings such as virtual forest bathing walks and online environmental education workshops. In addition to our Instagram account, we plan to install trail cameras and offer photo/video resources. We will also have limited options to access on-site services such as overnight accommodations and guided hikes.

How can I contribute to the EcoWisdom Project?