Outdoor learning program seeks 5-year lease on Yellowknife land


The co-founders of Bushkids, a land-based learning program that provides outdoor activities for children, are applying to lease land from the City of Yellowknife for its programming.

Wendy Lahey and Chloe Dragon Smith presented their candidacy during a meeting at Yellowknife City Hall on Monday.

They are asking for a five-year lease on land adjacent to the town’s country house and next to the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation’s healing camp.

Bushkids is applying to lease an approximately 3,500 square meter portion of land adjacent to the city’s land complex. The area has an estimated value of $41,000. (City of Yellowknife)

Lahey said Bushkids has operated at the site for about four years, courtesy of the city.

“Our goal of coming to see you today is to be able to continue this programming on a ground where we have built such great relationships and seen so much magic,” she said.

Lahey described their initiatives: a weekly program for children ages 5 to 11, workshops for Aurora College nursing and child care students, and mentorship programs for NWT teachers and child care providers.

Bushkid uses the land to run a number of initiatives, including programs for children, workshops for Aurora College nursing and child care students, and mentoring programs for teachers and child care centers in the Northwest Territories. (Emma Grunwald/CBC)

Dragon Smith said they approach their curriculum from an Indigenous perspective to “introduce and balance Indigenous worldviews of learning with mainstream worldviews”.

She added that their intention is to make their programs accessible to everyone.

“We believe that the opportunity to learn on the job is essential for everyday life.”

Their lease application cited two calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which call for the development of culturally appropriate programs and education for Indigenous families and children.

The site overlooks Yellowknife’s Kam Lake. (Emma Grunwald/CBC)

Councilors support the lease

Kerry Thistle, the city’s director of economic development and strategy, said the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation supports the Bushkids’ request to lease land next to their camp.

City councilors also backed the request.

The Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation, whose healing camp is pictured here, supports the request, according to the city administration. (Emma Grunwald/CBC)

“It seems pretty straightforward from my perspective,” Coun said. Robin Williams.

“I see neighbors who are happy with the arrangement. We see a company that does a very good job of educators and raising children.”

Com. Stacie Smith enjoyed the program.

“I wish it was there when I was a kid. I would have had a golden age there,” she said.

Bushkids would be required to pay 5% of the lot’s assessed value each year, in addition to a $10,000 deposit.

With an estimated value of $41,000, they’ll likely pay around $2,000 a year for the five-year lease.

The request will be presented at the next meeting of the municipal council on October 24 at 7 p.m.


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