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Every year, countries from around the world celebrate Earth Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the planet we call home. It’s a day designed to remind us of the interdependant relationship humans and all species have with the Earth. Many First Nation cultures appropriately refer to our planet as ‘Mother Earth’ because it has given birth to us, it nurtures us, and it allows us to grow.

The Reading Bear Society (RBS) draws upon the teachings of First Nation cultures, as well as on the symbol of the bear. In many First Nation cultures the bear is known as a leader, a protector, a teacher, a healer, and as a mother. Some cultures built their knowledge of the environment through observing the actions of bears. They relied on bears to show them what plants were safe to eat, and which plants could be used for medicinal purposes. Therefore, the bear represents a connection between the environment and humankind.

The RBS values Aboriginal expertise and it is foundational to the program. The RBS curriculum is based on the diversity of bears, where they live, what they eat, and their unique features. This allows children to develop a meaningful connection with bears and with the planet earth. Earth day provides an opportunity to celebrate our planet and to highlight the importance of protecting it for future generations. It doesn’t matter where you were born, what language you speak, or what culture you belong to, we are all interconnected with each other, through our beautiful planet.

As First Nations artist and author, Roy Henry Vickers says “We are all one race, the human race. We all share the same father sky and mother earth. We are all family.”

Cheryl Gascoyne, Métis

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