The co-founders of Bushkids, a land-based learning program that offers outdoor activities to children, is applying to lease land from the city of Yellowknife for its programming.
Wendy Lahey and Chloe Dragon Smith presented their application in a meeting at Yellowknife city hall on Monday.
They are asking for a five-year lease on a lot adjacent to the city’s fieldhouse and next to the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation’s healing camp.
Lahey said Bushkids has been operating at the site for about four years, with the city’s permission.
“Our goal of coming to you today is to be able to continue this programming on land where we have built such beautiful relationships and seen so much magic,” she said.
Lahey outlined their initiatives: a weekly program for children ages five to 11, workshops for Aurora College nursing and child-care students, and mentorship programs for teachers and daycares in the N.W.T.
Dragon Smith said they approach their curriculum from an Indigenous perspective to “bring in and balance Indigenous worldviews of learning with the mainstream worldviews.”
She added that their intention is to make their programs accessible to everyone.
“We believe that the opportunity to learn on-the-land is essential for everyday life.”
Their lease application noted two calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which call for the development of culturally appropriate programming and education for Indigenous families and children.
Councillors support the lease
Kerry Thistle, the city’s director of economic development and strategy, said the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation was in support of Bushkids request to lease land next to their camp.
City councillors were also supportive of the application.
“This seems pretty straightforward from my perspective,” said Coun. Robin Wiliams.
“I see neighbours that are happy with the arrangement. We see a company that’s doing some really great work for educators and educating kids.”
Coun. Stacie Smith was appreciative of the program.
“I wish this was there when I was a kid. I would have had a heyday there,” she said.
Bushkids would be required to pay five per cent of the lot’s assessed value each year, in addition to a $10,000 deposit.
With an estimated assessed value of $41,000, they’re likely to pay around $2,000 per year for the five-year lease.
The application will be brought forward at the city’s next council meeting on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.