Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Are we Indigenizing or Decolonizing?

Indigenize : "to cause to have indigenous characteristics or personnel"
( Merriam-Webster)

To Decolonize is to undo colonialism. (

One of the questions I am struggling with lately in the discourse over Aboriginal Education is: Are we Indigenizing the public education system, or are we Decolonizing it? By indigenizing, I see in some schools Aboriginal awareness days, artwork, support workers and the odd Elder or resource person coming in to present. Is that all there is? Are we addressing the need to decolonize our classrooms, transforming our thinking to allow for real change to take place?

I think indigenizing is a good start, but it is just a beginning, an affirmation that is needed to acknowledge the traditional territories and peoples around our schools and make these buildings welcoming to a dispossessed demographic. Decolonizing is the transformative change that is necessary to make our schools, and, by extension, society accepting and truly inclusive of Aboriginal people and the Indigenous experience. We need to unlearn how we have learned in this system and explore other ways of knowing and pedagogies.

The choice schools in Prince George and Vancouver are good beginnings in this exploration in decolonization. Their attempts to reposition the worldviews and perspectives in presenting the curriculum is one example of what decolonization may look like. I hope it is successful. We, as educators, however, need to encourage everyone to explore their understanding of the Indigenous.

This is very much an incomplete thought.

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