Decolonizing Canada: A Non-Indigenous Approach

A Transformative Framework for Decolonizing Canada:  A Non-Indigenous Approach is a speech written by a doctoral student at the University of Victoria.  I found it truly illuminating.  The author, Paulette Regan, uses a story to describe the differences in communication between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people.  Her argument is that while non-Indigenous people ask for open dialogue and communication with Indigenous people, we are really asking for it on our terms.  We want them to communicate to us our way but are not willing to listen and respect their way of communicating.  Regan (2005) states that:

It is the gap between what we (as non-indigenous people) think we are doing- which is engaging with good intentions in an intercultural dialogue, and how Indigenous peoples experience that same event as a manifestation of deeply ingrained institutional colonialism and attitudes.
In these situations what we are really doing, whether unconsciously or not, is asking Indigenous peoples to fit within our cultural paradigm- to have the intercultural dialogue on our terms, not theirs. (p. 2)

Regan continues on to argue that non-Indigenous people need to stop looking at decolonization as something that “they” (the “other”) needs to do to reclaim what they have lost, but rather something that non-Indigenous people need to participate in so that we can understand the Indigenous perspective and realize how pervasive colonialism is.

To get ‘unstuck’ the non-indigenous … must focus not, as we have done so often with disastrous results, on the problem of the “other” (that is, Indigenous peoples) but turn our gaze, mirror-like, back upon ourselves, to what Roger Epp calls the “settler problem.” In essence, we must begin to take a more proactive responsibility for decolonizing ourselves. (Regan, 2005; p. 6)

Regan then goes on to share her vision of a transformative framework that uses the past to help us learn and move forward.


Regan, P. (2005).  A Transformative Framework for Decolonizing Canada: A Non-Indigenous Approach.  (Doctoral Student Symposium Speech)  Retrieved online at:


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