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Rediscovering Rites of Passage: Education, Transformation, and the Transition to Sustainability

David Adam Lertzman, University of Calgary

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Abstract

This paper focuses on rites of passage as a model for wilderness programs. It draws on my experience in the field, particularly with Native youth in a community-based program called "Rediscovery." The Rediscovery program is discussed, along with concepts of traditional indigenous knowledge and education. Foundational concepts of rites of passage are described in terms of their relevance to youth, outdoor education, and the Rediscovery program in particular. Using Rediscovery as a model, rites of passage are put forward as an educational process for youth from various cultural backgrounds. In this context, the purpose of education is to cultivate self-knowledge and to foster core personal development: the making of whole human beings. The paper closes with a reflection on my work with traditional indigenous people and the significance of rites of passage for education, cultural transformation, and the transition to ecological sustainability.

Key words

Canada, First Nations, Rediscovery, indigenous peoples, outdoor education, rites of passage, sustainability, traditional knowledge, youth
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087