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This Special Report considers the recent and relevant academic and other publicly available literature, including policy documents and program reports representing both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives on the theory and practice of land-based programming. 


A review of this literature finds an extensive record of the benefits of land-based programming for Indigenous peoples’ mental and physical health and positive learning outcomes for students of Western place-based education models. Not surprisingly, then, the number of land-based programs has increased dramatically over the past ten years. The specific themes that emerged from this research revolve around, 1) Indigenous Self-Determination, 2) Health and Well-Being, 3) Environmental Stewardship, 4) Reconciliation and Climate Justice, and 5) Evaluation Methodologies. Each of these is elaborated upon in the report, which land-based program providers, funding agencies, and policymakers will find useful for several purposes – namely, for understanding and explaining theory and practice but also demonstrated value and benefits of Indigenous land-based programming. 


What are the similarities and differences between Indigenous land-based programming and Western models of place-based education? What are the valuable impacts and challenges of land-based programs on health & well-being, environmental stewardship, reconciliation & climate justice, and Indigenous self-determination?

Most, if not all, land-based programs are designed to result in multiple interrelated outcomes and benefits for human mental, emotional, and physical health; environmental stewardship; cultural confidence and Indigenous knowledge; technical and practical skills; and enhanced understanding of and proficiency with critical concepts like settler-colonialism, governance, and Indigenous self-determination.


Mandee McDonald

York Factory First Nation & Sǫ́mbak'è


Jamie Stevenson

Tłı̨chǫ | Northwest Territories