Come and walk with us – Q’shintul – as we discover and learn together.
For thousands of years, the beautiful and varied land in the Cowichan Valley has been the “classroom” for learners of all ages.
Mill Bay Nature School is a free public school – presently for children ages 4 to 11 (and growing to include 12 -14 year olds in the years to come) – situated in the Warm Land of the Cowichan Valley – the beautiful traditional territory of the Hul’q’umi’num’ People who have lived in this place since time immemorial . We are rooted in a relationship with the Cowichan and Malahat Peoples – walking together with our elders-in-residence Tousilum and Sulsa’meethl George – and seek to build a place that honours the natural rhythms of this place, the lessons learned over millennia, and the structures of a village that honours, and ultimately serves, our xe’ xe’ smune’em – our sacred children. We enact the First Peoples Principles of Learning because they reflect the natural rhythms of a healthy, sustainable ecosystem – and we see this in the development of children with strong voices, respectful hearts, and brilliant minds who are known and know others – even as they struggle with and learn from diverse ways of being and seeing and knowing.
“Our morning soft-starts have a feeling of a family reunion, and our restorative justice circles end with a movement towards forgiveness – blowing the problem away even as we own what we did to another” – Kim Ondrik, Head Learner, Mill Bay Nature School
The staff is committed to an emergent curriculum which flows from provocations, questions, challenges, and the living of life in a community of people; they may begin in the mind of a child, an adult, or a Hul’q’umi’num’ elder. An attention to emergence requires nimble and agile responsiveness, and a willingness to walk together – Q’shintul –as we discover and learn together. The staff are also committed to the development of core competencies (described in the B.C. Curriculum) within themselves and the children: critical, creative and reflective thinking; personal development; social understanding and engagement; and robust, expansive communication skills – because we know how critical these are for lifelong engagement in an ever-changing world.
At Mill Bay Nature School, learning is intentionally embedded in everything we do – loose parts, schedules, activities, field studies, rhythms, experiences, inside and outside design, meetings, fundraising, and on and on – and we invite each one to take up a spirit of playfulness and inquiry whilst knowing (through research) that deep abiding relationships precede a willingness to take risks, step out of our comfort zones, and try new things. Our morning soft-starts have a feeling of a family reunion, and our restorative justice circles end with a movement towards forgiveness – blowing the problem away even as we own what we did to another. We like being together here; it’s hard work, invigorating, and inspiring.
Mill Bay Nature School is a place of learning and growth for each one in the community. Come and see for yourself; our door is always open !
For more information, please take a look at our Field Guide