Land-Based Learning Fund

Arms stretching an animal hide

Land-based learning has been a long-standing practice and area of education in Indigenous communities since time immemorial. It is not just learning about the land, but it is learning with the land as a relation. Being on the land connects us to place, ancestors, and all our relations, grounding us and at times can offer healing and comfort.   

To make land-based learning opportunities more accessible to Indigenous students while studying at Western, they may apply for funding to participate in land-based learning experiences that would support their wellness and learning while at Western and Western’s affiliates. Funding is available for individual students to cover the costs of an experience off-campus as well as programming being created to foster relation to land while attending a new urban campus environment. This pilot program opportunity was made possible by the support from the Parr Centre for Thriving and the Office of Indigenous Initiatives.    

Jennifer Métisse Redvers, Institute for Circumpolar Health Research, proposed the following definitions of “land-based” and “land-based program.”

“Land-based: Relationship with the land as a central feature or concept rooted in Indigenous epistemology and pedagogy. Land-based implies a deep connection with, and non-separation between human beings and the natural world. A reference to land includes all aspects of the natural world: plants, animals, ancestors, spirits, natural features, and environment (air, water, earth, minerals). The term can also be used in reference to a physical location or geographical concept.”

“Land-based program: A culturally defined program or service that takes place in an urban nature-based, rural, or remote location, which involves cultural teachings and intergenerational knowledge transfer, combined with any number of other activities or goals. Programs are informed by an Indigenous pedagogy wherein the land is the main source of knowledge and teaching.”

Part One: Student Fund

To contribute to their success at Western and the affiliates, Indigenous students are invited to maintain their relationship with, or reconnect to the land, through culturally relevant land-based learning opportunities offered outside of Western University curriculum and opportunities utilizing the Land-based Learning Fund.   

Land-Based Learning Student Fund applications are reviewed monthly by a committee of representatives from the Office of Indigenous Initiatives. Awards will vary between $200 to $3,000, depending on the student’s self-identified needs. This pilot fund will be open for applications until the end of October 2023 or until all funding available has been awarded.   

Is there a land-based program or event happening in your home community? We will fund the costs associated with returning home to participate!  

Want to attend a land-based program, but not alone? Indigenous students can apply to attend the same land-based program!  

Example Activities:  

·       Canoe Building or Canoe trip

·       Game Hunting and Harvesting   

·       Hide Tanning Camp

·       Land-based Ceremonies

·       Medicine Harvesting  

·       Wild Rice Harvesting  

Example Groups:

·       13 Moons Land-Based Learning  

·       Cape Croker Park’s Anishinaabe Cultural Experiences  

·       Courses through Deschinta Centre for Research and Learning  

Interested, but not sure where to start? Contact Lauren Poeta, Indigenous Initiatives Project Associate, at .  


Download Student Application form


Completion of a land-based program through the Land-Based Learning Student Fund will complete Category 2 (Stream 2) of the Indigenous Learning Honour for Indigenous students.  

Part Two: On-Campus Land-Based Learning Opportunities

Stay tuned for announcements and follow us on social media!  

Participation in On-Campus Land-Based Learning Opportunities will contribute points to Category 3 of the Memegwaanh: Indigenous Learning Honour.

Want to read more about Land-Based Learning? Start with these resources

Redvers, J. (2020). “The land is a healer”: Perspectives on land-based healing from Indigenous practitioners in northern Canada. International Journal of Indigenous Health, 15(1), 90-107.

“Cultural knowledge is currently being revitalized by Indigenous practitioners where land is understood as a relational component of healing and well-being. Land-based activities such as harvesting, education, ceremony, recreation, and cultural-based counselling are all components of this integrative practice. Land-based practices are centered in Indigenous pedagogy and recognize that identity is interwoven with and deeply connected to the land.”

McDonald, M. (2023). Indigenous Land-Based Education in Theory and Practice. A Yellowhead Institute Special Report.  

“This Special Report considers the recent and relevant academic and other publicly available literature, including policy documents and program reports representing both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives on the theory and practice of land-based programming.”

Land Education Dreambook:  

“The Land Education Dreambook is intended for organizations and groups who are interested in developing land education programs for youth. This is a set of guided activities to help your collective to imagine and plan your program.”