INDIGENOUS WAYS OF KNOWING
RESOURCE FOR TEACHERS
I started my thesis with this quote. I wrote 200 pages about privilege. Two years of understanding the impacts of colonialism, cognitive imperialism, internalized racism, lateral violence, defensive posturing, and the effects on education and national identity.
My thesis wrote itself. The Eurocentric historical narrative that has formed the basis of our education system has created an impenetrable layer of perspectives of First Nations, Metis, Inuit (FNMI) peoples, not as the founding peoples of our nation, but as obstacles that needed to be overcome. These obstacles are the depictions of our First Peoples as intruders of history, only depicted when they are obstructing the nation building process of Canada.
Teaching through multiple perspectives is a twofold challenge; first, to unpack the historical narratives that drives people to the deeply rooted preconceived notions of our FNMI population; and second to create a climate of support in our schools where educators feel confident in their capabilities and cultural competence in order to build an inclusive learning environment.
Recognizing the misconceptions of FNMI peoples’ history, exploring the statistics of the fastest growing population in Canada, and mindfully acknowledging the factors that are hindering success in the day to day life of students living under the legacies of colonization, helps us understand how we, as educators and leaders, can eliminate the achievement gap in FNMI students.
Cultural proficiency is knowing our own culture, first, knowing the unconscious bias and narratives we’ve been taught, unlearning these narratives and racial perspectives that have been perpetuated through history and media, and learning the true stories about cultures we seek to understand. Then, and only then, we can begin to unmake the dominant narratives.