Indigenizing post-secondary education is an important part of enhancing teaching and learning. The ‘Pulling Together’ professional learning series represents an important step in incorporating Indigenous voices.
Since the final report and calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission were released in June 2015, there has been a push for the Indigenization of post-secondary education across Canada. Around the same time, Universities Canada released its principles on Indigenous education. A few months later, post-secondary institutions in Manitoba signed the Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Education Blueprint for Universities, Colleges, and Public School Boards.
The recent focus on Indigenization has come with the question of “how do we do this?” The University of Regina has created a document for their staff and faculty, entitled “100 ways to Indigenize and decolonize academic programs and courses.” BCcampus Indigenization Collaborative Project has also created a Style Sheet for Indigenization Guides.
What is Indigenization?
Indigenization is a process of incorporating Indigenous perspectives, processes and knowledge systems. (Pulling Together, Guide for Curriculum Developers) It must be noted that Indigenization does not mean replacing Western knowledge or changing it, rather, braiding together Western and Indigenous knowledge so teachers and learners can appreciate both.
Marlene Brant Castellano (2014) notes that “Indigenizing education means that every subject at every level is examined to consider how and to what extent content and pedagogy reflect the presence of Indigenous Peoples and the valid contribution of Indigenous knowledge. Such an examination would shift the focus from remediating deficits in Aboriginal students to addressing bias and omissions in the educational system.”
Indigenization benefits everyone, as we gain a more in-depth understanding of the world around us by incorporating Indigenous knowledge into pedagogy. The University of Saskatchewan provides a great analogy: “much like how qualitative methodology challenged and complimented quantitative approaches to research, the inclusion of Indigenous relativistic approaches to knowledge will challenge and contribute to Western understandings of knowledge and truth.”
Indigenization seeks not only relevant programs and support services, but also a fundamental shift in the ways that institutions:
- Include Indigenous perspectives, values, and cultural understandings in policies and daily practices;
- Position Indigenous ways of knowing at the heart of the institution, which then informs all the work that they do;
- Include cultural protocols and practices in institutional operations (Pulling Together, Guide for Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors).
Pulling Together: A Guide for Indigenization of Post-Secondary Institutions; A Professional Learning Series is a series of professional learning guides licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commerical 4.0 International License.
BCcampus released the series in September 2018, and it includes the following guides:
- Pulling Together: Foundations Guide
- Pulling Together: A Guide for Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors
- Pulling Together: A Guide for Teachers and Instructors
- Pulling Together: A Guide for Curriculum Developers
- Pulling Together: A Guide for Leaders and Administrators
These Open Educational Resources (OERs) are living documents that you can adapt. The customizable aspect of OERs allows learning to be more regionally specific. BCcampus invites “you to augment it with your own stories and examples, and, where possible, include Indigenous voice and perspectives from your area in the materials” (Pulling Together, A Guide for Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors).
Last year, we attended the “Educational Impacts in the North” conference in Prince George, B.C., where we learned about various approaches to inclusivity and ways of knowing. Initiatives like this indicate a desire for stronger Indigenous perspectives in post-secondary learning across Canada.
In Manitoba, we encourage all staff and faculty throughout the post-secondary education system to read these guides, and consider adapting them to include the diverse Indigenous voices and perspectives from our province.
Campus Manitoba’s administrative office is located on Treaty 2 territory, traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Assininboine, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and the homeland of the Metis nation.