Toronto District School Board: Aboriginal education

I was surprised to find a strong Aboriginal education Centre within the Toronto DSB because the GTA has become so urbanized.  Upon reflection I realized how essential it would be to provide support for the sometimes hidden urban Aboriginal youth in Canada’s largest city.  The TDSB website provides various resources and articles, including a reference to Attawapiskat in a discussion of decolonization in education: Moving Beyond the Colonial Legacy.  An excellent resource for teachers is also provided titled Since Time Immemorial.  This curriculum resource offers best practices in including Aboriginal Peoples in the curriculum through instructional strategies, activities, and curriculum connections.  A link to Ontario Government’s Aboriginal Teacher’s Tool Kit provides teachers with further strategies and ways to integrate Aboriginal experiences, learning and culture into their teaching.


November 3, 2012   No Comments

Project of Heart

The Project of Heart is an artistic social action project intending to influence decolonization in Canada by raising awareness of residential schools and human rights.  Canadian students and citizens are asked to take ownership over the residential schools atrocities and the continued discrimination Indigenous people experience in Canada.  Similar to Paulette Regan, the project describes how it is essential for Canadians to feel uncomfortable visiting and participating in the project, in order to become an ally.



November 3, 2012   No Comments

First Nations Education Steering Committee and the BC First Nations Education System

The FNESC website provide an overview of First Nations education in BC.  The organization highlights the importance of a separate First Nations Education System providing a holistic education to students.  The schools are an example of self-determination and recognition of First Nation Peoples as a distinct society.  This video describes the structure of the school system and the education system values.  The BC First Nations Education System is a step towards decolonizing Indigenous education in Canada.  Funding has been a serious issue for First Nation schools, however at the beginning of 2012 the federal government passed a new funding system, which will decrease the gap between First Nation Schools and public schools.


November 3, 2012   No Comments

Decolonizing Pedagogies Booklet

I felt like I hit the jackpot when I found the “Decolonizing Pedagogies Booklet.”   This booklet answered many of my questions regarding how teachers could decolonize instruction. Heather E. McGregor, UBC PhD candidate, prepared this booklet in 2012, referencing key Indigenous Studies Scholars: Linda Smith, Marie Battiste, Michael Marker, Susan Dion and Paulette Regan.    McGregor suggests Aboriginal ways of learning, various decolonizing pedagogies, samples of decolonizing pedagogy and challenges to decolonizing education. Key decolonizing pedagogies include:

  • Helping learners come to recognize and know the structures of colonization and their implications.
  • Engaging in activities that disrupt those structures on an individual and collective level.
  • Recentring of Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing.
  • Facilitating engagement with possibilities for making change in the world.
  • Supporting Indigenous self-determination (McGregor, 2012, p. 4)

McGregor, H. (2012). Decolonizing pedagogies booklet. Service Project for Aboriginal Focus School: Vancouver School Board.  Retrieved from


November 3, 2012   No Comments


Weblog 3.1

Like Janet B I discovered the online journal Decolonisation: Indigeneity, Education and Society offers interesting reading.

The editorial by Sium, Desai and Ritskes (2012) Towards the ‘tangible unknown’: Decolonization and the Indigenous future attempts to sum up the articles published in the journal and aims to examine the “contradictions, contestations and possible pathways to decolonisation”. (p 1)

They comment that there are many visions and definitions of decolonisation, but that it must include resistance to colonial relations of power and must result in “reimaging and rearticulating power, change and knowledge”. They argue that decolonisation can’t happen without recognition of primacy of land and indigenous sovereignty of the land.

They argue we cannot be spectators (settlers or Indigenous) and decolonisation must find ways to combine both theory and action (there needs to be theory to inform action and action to inform theory) with daily acts of resistance. It is an interesting read.

October 31, 2012   No Comments

Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society

Decolonization: Idigeneity, Education & Society is a peer-reviewed, online, open access journal.  The journal is very new – it’s first issue was released on September 17, 2012.  The website states that the journal is “committed to decolonization work within education, as part of a larger project of decolonization in society.”  The panel of peer-reviewers is listed on the site and includes people from a number of countries and disciplines.  The first issue can be accessed here.

As this is a new journal, there was not much to review.  However, the initiative and the impressive list of peer-reviewers makes it worth looking at.  The first issue contains and editorial, articles, poetry and the cover page is a beautiful piece of artwork.  The journal certainly speaks to the main topic of Module 3.

October 30, 2012   No Comments

Decolonizing Knowledge – UBC Facebook Page

This is quite the site.  There is a great deal of current information on this site and it is an example of social media spreading the word.  The site can be accessed at

I took a few minutes to look through the site and was impressed by the amount of information on it, as well as ongoing discussions and links to upcoming conferences, speakers, activities and current topics.  The site was started in November 2010 and its description states:

Decolonizing Knowledge is a student-led initiative that facilitates strategies to reconcile the cultural misrepresentation and appropriation that occurs on the UBC Point Grey Campus. By building inter-cultural relationships with organizations and individuals on campus, and spreading accessible information outside of the classroom, Decolonizing Knowledge seeks to equip staff, students, and faculty members with the tools necessary to create a campus that is welcoming to all. (Quote from FB page found at

Definitely well worth a visit.

October 25, 2012   No Comments

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:

October 25, 2012   No Comments

Decolonizing Methodologies and Indigenous Knowledge

The full name of the paper is Decolonizing Methodologies and Indigenous Knowledge: The Role of Culture, Place and Personal Experience in Professional Development.  The pdf can be found here.  The paper discusses the attitudes of teachers to including Indigenous knowledge in their curriculum before and after a presentation on indigenous Hawai’ian science topics.

The paper was very hopeful, indicating that it is possible to change teachers’ attitudes towards including Indigenous knowledge.  What was even more interesting, was that the researcher cited Linda Smith’s (1999) book on Decolonizing Methodologies.  The author states that, “Linda Smith (1999), a Maori researcher, describes 25 decolonizing research projects to recover marginalized cultural knowledge, practices, and identity.” (Chinn, 2007; p. 1252).  Chinn (2007) then identifies five of these decolonizing methods that she used in the research.  A very interesting article and study on a variety of levels, and one that ties in math, science and Module 3’s theme of decolonization.


Chinn, P. W. U. (2007).  Decolonizing methodologies and indigenous knowledge: The role of culture, place and personal experience in professional development.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Volume 44, No. 9, p. 1247 – 1268.  Retrieved online at:

Smith, L. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. NewYork: Zed Books Ltd.



October 23, 2012   No Comments


The focus of my weblogs will be on Indigenous loss of access and connection to their histories, culture and language within the educational system and how technology and educational reform can play a role in decolonizing, democratizing and reforming their educational experiences. In today’s global educational culture of standardized curriculum and educational practices including transmissive and rote styles, learning is often irrelevant and disconnected from local cultures, knowledge, or everyday activities.  Because of this, students become disconnected, alienated and further colonized by the system.  This disconnection is not only seen in Indigenous students, but also presents a problem among all students.  When any knowledge is removed from context, it becomes fragmented and disconnected from the student’s knowledge of the world.  This leaves them with limited ability to integrate the curricular knowledge into their existing experiences, knowledge patterns and previous understandings thereby resulting in the failure to participate and create meaningful learning.  However, for the purposes of this course, I will be focussing on this disconnect among Indigenous youth and the ways that schools might minimize these problems using techniques and technology.

Realistically, we live in the 21st century of globalization through immigration, internet, multiculturalism, and political power structures.  Because these aspects of our society have made isolation and sheltered communities almost impossible, as educators, we need to look for solutions that exist in a post-colonization world in which we can encourage individual’s open and critical thinking about their own identities, cultural knowledge and understanding of the world. One of the ways that provides promise is the new initiative called constructivist learning in which individuals guide their own learning process and find their own meaning.  With the use of the internet, resources offered by their local communities and a sensitive and integrated educational system, Indigenous students may have a chance to self-determine their own post-colonization cultural identities.

Cheers, Steve MacKenzie

September 21, 2012   No Comments