Culturally appropriate Land-based learning - Bushkids Northwest Territories

Chloe Dragon Smith, Wendy Lahey; Bushkids co-founders

March 2, 2022 1:05 pm
Culturally appropriate Land-based learning - Bushkids Northwest Territories

Bushkids is an outdoor learning initiative in the Northwest Territories that operates in ethical space – balancing Indigenous and Euro-western approaches to learning and process. Bushkids co-founders Chloe Dragon Smith and Wendy Lahey will share some lessons learned through their collaboration alongside some practical ideas for others.


Chloe Dragon-Smith

Co-founder, Bushkids

Chloe Dragon Smith was born and raised in Beghúledesche (Yellowknife), Denendeh (NWT). Of Métis, German, Dënesųłiné, and French heritage, her mother is Brenda Dragon and her father is Leonard Smith. Her maternal ancestors lived in relationship with caribou, travelling with the herds from areas around northern Saskatchewan and Alberta, through the NWT – Yellowknife and Fort Smith (where her mother and grandmother were raised). They thrived on the land now allocated as Wood Buffalo National Park, all the way up to the treeline and the tundra.

Chloe is passionate about relationships between Lands and peoples. She has a degree in Earth Science; however, she would say that she has learned most of what she knows from her family and her upbringing.  Her work varies, from on-the-Land learning, to Indigenous-led conservation, to dealing with climate change. She is passionate about revitalizing Indigenous systems – self-determined systems of living, learning, management, economies, and governance. As a mixed-blood person, she feels a constant responsibility to bridge barriers and help support balance however she can.

Wendy Lahey

Co-founder, Bushkids

Wendy Lahey was born and raised in Burlington, Ontario by her Polish mother and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia father. Her mother, Phyllis Bryk, grew up on a farm in Hamilton, Ontario and her father Sandy Lahey, grew up in the rural fishing village of Main-a-Dieu, Cape Breton. Wendy had two parents with large families with traditions that centred on fish, music and large quantities of food from the garden or the farm. She is grateful to have been raised simply with strong values of love and compassion. Being non-Indigenous, she feels very fortunate to live on Yellowknives Dene Land, Chief Drygeese, Treaty 8 territory since 2004 with her husband where she is raising her two children.

Wendy worked as a teacher for many years and is now an instructor of adults at Aurora College. Wendy holds bachelor’s degrees in science/math as well as physical and health education and holds a master’s in adult education, Indigenous health, and community development. She is interested in supporting a holistic approach to learning where children and educators appreciate and experience the deep value of Land-based learning.