Cultural understanding and cultural expertise are approaches that have framed cultural teaching practices for many years. Although these approaches are valuable, they do not address historical and current political, social and economic forces that are the context for most teaching and learning experiences involving Aboriginal students.
Past and current practices of colonialism are practices that degrade or diminish the dignity, worth and potentials of Aboriginal peoples. Many Aboriginal peoples, scholars, researchers, and educators are using the concepts of cultural safety and decolonization as a framework to reveal the practices inherent in historical and current colonialism. One scholar described the process of uncovering practices as “unsettling the settler within—a practice that would move us from unconsciousness, racism, denial, and guilt about history to critical inquiry, and social action”. Recognizing the practices of colonialism offers greater hope of positive and progressive experiences for teachers and students. The following are several resources that describe, investigate, and offer ways in which teachers can integrate the concepts of cultural safety and decolonization into the classroom.
These guides are the result of a collaboration between BCcampus and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. The project was led by a steering committee of Indigenous education leaders from BC universities, colleges, and institutes, the First Nations Education Steering Committee, the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association, and Métis Nation BC. We thank them for their guidance, support, and generosity. The content in these guides is authored by teams of Indigenous and ally writers from across BC. We thank them for sharing their knowledge and wisdom with others. We invite you to click on the links to learn more.
Highlighting BCcampus’ Indigenization Professional Learning Series:
“As I Am” 2010 NFB short documentary This documentary is set to a poem written by Mohawk Janet Rogers that challenges stereotypes of aboriginal people.
http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/First-Peoples-A-Guide-for-Newcomers.pdf First Peoples: A Guide for Newcomers aims to fill the need for clear information in simple language about the First Peoples in Vancouver.
http://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/ An information resource on key topics relating to the histories, politics, and cultures of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. This website was developed to support students in their studies, and to provide instructors, researchers and the broader public with a place to begin exploring topics that relate to Aboriginal peoples, cultures, and histories
http://decolonization.org/index.php/des/index Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society is an undisciplinary, peer-reviewed, online Open Access journal committed to supporting and advancing decolonization scholarship, practice, and activism within and, more importantly, beyond and against, the academy.
Although similar protocols are observed within many Aboriginal communities, each community can differ in their traditions and protocols; therefore it is essential to explore the appropriate approach for each community with which you work. The following resources provide a guide to understanding tradition and protocol in most Aboriginal communities.
–The Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia: Building Bridges Together Guide
This is a resource guide developed in 2008 for intercultural work between aboriginal people and non-aboriginal people.
–The Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia: Building Bridges Together Workbook
This is a workbook for Intercultural work between aboriginal people and non-aboriginal people that accompanies the resource guide.
–First Nations Education Steering Committee The goal of this site is to improve education for all First Nations Learners in BC. It gives information on special education, youth programs, and parent and community involvement to name a few.
Frameworks for Teaching and Learning: What Educators Need to Know:
http://firstpeoples.org/wp/we-need-to-talk-about-natives-and-education/ Heads up – we need to talk about school. Specifically, we need to talk about Native students and the education system – what’s working, what isn’t working, and what we can change.
http://grunt.ca/grunt-study-guides The lesson plans offer instructors guidelines by which to introduce students to a variety of topics, including colonialism, stereotypes, social responsibility, national languages, and local activist, artistic, and new media practices. Provided resources include texts (articles, essays, and short stories), images, worksheets, essay and discussion questions, and outlines for group activities. The guides are free to download in PDF format
http://www.whatilearnedinclasstoday.com/ What I Learned in Class Today: Aboriginal Issues in the Classroom is a research project that explores difficult discussions of Aboriginal issues that take place in classrooms at the University of British Columbia. Students frequently report troubling and sometimes traumatic discussions of cultural issues in class. These situations often affect their ability to function in their coursework, and even their ability to return to class.
- An understanding of the history of the education of Aboriginal peoples explains the present and provides direction for the future.
- Aboriginal prehistory dates back thousands of years—“since time immemorial.”
- The maintenance of oral traditions is critical to Aboriginal peoples.
- Colonization has tried to systemically destroy Aboriginal cultures,languages, and traditions.
- Colonization is often found embedded in texts and pedagogy in the mainstream educational system, sometimes referred to as the “hidden curriculum”, creating a legacy of colonial constructs that includes stereotypes and racist attitudes.
- The legacy of the Residential School experience is multi-generational and survivors still suffer traumatic effects.
- The “Sixties Scoop” has compounded the effects of separation of children from families with consequences still felt today.
- Although decolonization is challenging deep-rooted Eurocentric attitudes and practices, the process is not complete.
http://carleton.ca/aboriginal/wp-content/uploads/Kinamagawin-Aboriginal-Issues-in-the-Classroom-Resource-Guide1.pdf Oftentimes, discussions of Aboriginal issues in the class elicit strong emotions, including anger and frustration. This creates an alienating classroom environment and can act as a barrier to higher learning. This film and resource guide work to improve the ways that cross-cultural discussions occur in the classroom by asking the
questions: How does communication about Aboriginal issues take place in the classroom? And how can it be
Where are the Children?
This project was launched at the National Archives of Canada. Dedicated to the service of the nation’s identity, the Archives gathers what has been as an endowment to what will be. This project is an attempt to tell the true and painful story of a national institution committed, not to the preservation of a people, but to their forced assimilation.
Where are the Children? acknowledges that the era of silence is over. The resilience of Aboriginal people is evident in efforts to address the effects of unresolved trauma, thereby conferring upon future generations a renewed legacy of peace, strength, and well-being.
The Fallen Feather: Indian Industrial Residential Schools & Canadian Confederation 93 minute documentary that presents a description and analysis of the creation and development of the residential school system and the difficult, and painful legacy the people of this system left for First Nation’s generations.
http://www.belkin.ubc.ca/publications/witnesses-catalogue Witnesses: Art and Canada’s Indian Residential Schools. Exhibition catalogue from the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery (September 6-December 1, 2013).
With writing by Scott Watson, Geoffrey Carr and Chief Robert Joseph; edited by Scott Watson, Keith Wallace and Jana Tyner.
Culture & Property Rights & Protection
Things to know and questions to ask in order to avoid misappropriating Indigenous cultures
Library of Parliament: Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights