CJ 5 : Disrupting the idea of Canadian wilderness

At several points throughout the semester in our ESCI class, we have gone outside to experience the outdoors together.  We have also discussed the concept of wilderness and what it means in class, but I’d like to question what wilderness actually is.  The definition we came up with is class is roughly that wilderness is nature without human presence, rules, or order.  This is a rough definition, but one that serves the purpose for what is to come.

First off, there is no part of Canada that is without order.  All things in nature follow set rules and adhere to a natural order of things.  Rabbits fur changes with the seasons, salmon swim upstream at a set time of the year to spawn, and the seasons follow their order.  It is truly a colonial way of thinking to believe that simply because there isn’t human presence or written laws established that there is no order.  The indigenous peoples who roamed the lands before the arrival of colonials had their set traditions and rules that they followed before their arrival.

In Newberry’s Canoe pedagogy, she talks about how when in nature we must enjoy all aspects.  While on a canoe trip, we enjoy so much more than “just that of lakes, rocks, and trees—not just the smell of dirt and pine, the feel of hot granite after a swim, the softness of sphagnum, the graceful movement of a snapping turtle, or the scrape of lichen.  It is also a site of struggle, a tangle of contested meanings” (Newberry).  She elaborates that we must also embrace the hardships along our journey along with the beauty and wonders of nature.  When we truly appreciate nature, there is no such thing as wilderness, only home.


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