Decolonizing Educational Practices through Fostering Ethical Relationality in an Urban Indigenous Classroom

Authors

  • Diane H. Conrad University of Alberta
  • Etienna Moostoos-Lafferty University of Alberta
  • Natalie Burns Edmonton Catholic School Division
  • Annette Wentworth University of Alberta

Keywords:

Indigenous education, decolonizing education, ethical relationality, wîcihitowin and wahkohtowin

Abstract

To foster the success of young Indigenous learners, our study partnered with an urban Indigenous school in Alberta’s capital region. This paper explores the decolonizing practices that emerged through the ethical relationships developed with students and staff guided by the Cree wisdom teachings of wîcihitowin and wahkohtowin. A group of Indigenous and Canadian university and school-based co-researchers worked with a class of students over four years (from grade 6 to 9) incorporating Indigenous knowledges with the mandated Social Studies curriculum. The teachings included Cree language, land-based activities, ceremony and story. Students expressed appreciation for the teachings and the opportunities they had experienced over the course of the study; it was a small step towards decolonizing education.

Author Biographies

Diane H. Conrad, University of Alberta

Diane Conrad is a Professor in the Department of Secondary Education at the University of Alberta. She is very thankful to have been co-Principal Investigator of this SSHRC funded project – to have had this opportunity to learn more about Indigenous education.

Diane Conrad est professeur au département de l’enseignement secondaire de l’Université de l’Alberta. Elle est très reconnaissante d’avoir pu agir à titre de co-chercheur principal de ce projet subventionné par le CRSH. Elle a ainsi eu l’opportunité d’en apprendre davantage sur l’éducation des autochtones.

Etienna Moostoos-Lafferty, University of Alberta

Etienna Moostoos-Lafferty was born and raised in Grande Prairie Alberta. Her family is from the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation in Treaty 8 territory. Etienna works as an Indigenous Education Coach and is currently completing her Masters in Secondary Education at the University of Alberta.

Etienna Moostoos-Lafferty est née et a grandi à Grande Prairie, en Alberta. Sa famille est originaire de la nation crie Sturgeon Lake dans le territoire du Traité numéro 8. Etienna travaille comme coach en éducation autochtone et complète sa maîtrise en éducation secondaire à l’Université de l’Alberta.

Natalie Burns, Edmonton Catholic School Division

Natalie Burns is a settler-ally who currently resides in Amiskwacîwâskahikan on Treaty 6 Territory. She holds a BEd in Secondary Education from the University of Alberta. Natalie has been teaching Social Studies with the Edmonton Catholic School Division since 2008.

Natalie Burns est une alliée des pionniers qui réside actuellement à Amiskwacîwâskahikan, au sein du territoire du Traité numéro 6. Elle détient un baccalauréat en enseignement secondaire de l’Université de l’Alberta. Natalie enseigne les sciences sociales à la division scolaire catholique d’Edmonton depuis 2008.

Annette Wentworth, University of Alberta

Annette Wentworth is an author and PhD student in the department of Secondary Education at the University of Alberta. Her research interests are in memory studies, feminist, post/anti-colonial and arts-based research.

Annette Wentworth est auteur et doctorante au département de l’enseignement secondaire de l’Université de l’Alberta. Elle s’intéresse à l’étude des souvenirs, au féminisme, au post/anticolonialisme et aux recherches basées sur l’art.

References

Alfred, T. (2005). Wasase: Indigenous pathways to action and freedom. Broadview Press.

Assembly of First Nations. (2011). First Nation elementary and secondary education: A discussion guide. Assembly of First Nations. Retrieved from: https://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/education/11-10-31_fn_education_-_a_discussion_guide_final.pdf

Battiste, M. A. (1998). Enabling the autumn seed: Toward a decolonized approach to Aboriginal knowledge, language, and education. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 22(1), 16-27.

Battiste, M. A. (2013). Decolonizing education: Nourishing the learning spirit. Purich.

Battiste, M., & Henderson, J. (2009). Naturalizing Indigenous knowledge in Eurocentric education. Journal of Native Education, 32(1), 5-18.

Cajete, G. (1994). Look to the mountain: An ecology of Indigenous education. Kivaki Press.

Corntassel, J. (2012). Re-envisioning resurgence: Indigenous pathways to decolonization and sustainable self-determination. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1(1), 86-101.

Donald, D. (2016). From what does ethical relationality flow? An Indian Act in three artifacts. In J. Seidel & D. W. Jardine (Eds.), The ecological heart of teaching: Radical tales of refuge and renewal for classrooms and communities (p. 10-16). Peter Lang.

Edwards, K., Lund, C., & Gibson, N. (2008). Ethical validity: Expecting the unexpected in community-based research. Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health, 6(3), 17-30.

Ermine, W. (2007). The ethical space of engagement. Indigenous Law Journal, 6(1), 193-203.

Hare, J., & Pidgeon, M. (2011). The way of the warrior: Indigenous youth navigating the challenges of schooling. Canadian Journal of Education, 34(2), 93-111.

Kanu, Y. (2007). Increasing school success among Aboriginal students: Culturally responsive curriculum or macrostructural variables affecting schooling? Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education, 1(1), 21-41. https://doi.org/10.1080/15595690709336599

Littlebear, L. (2009). Naturalizing Indigenous knowledge: Synthesis paper. Canadian Council on Learning’s Aboriginal Learning Centre. Retrieved from: https://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/education/21._2009_july_ccl-alkc_leroy_littlebear_naturalizing_indigenous_knowledge-report.pdf

Michell, H. (2011). Working with elders and Indigenous knowledge systems: A reader and guide for places of higher learning. JCharlton Pub.

Munroe, E. A., Lunney Borden, L., Murray Orr, A., Toney, D. & Meader, J. (2013). Decolonizing Aboriginal education in the 21st century. McGill Journal of Education, 48(2), 317-337.

Nielsen, T. W. (2010). Lost in translation? Rethinking First Nation education via LUCID insights. International Review of Education, 56(4), 411-433.

Rahman, K. (2013). Belonging and learning to belong in school: The implications of the hidden curriculum for indigenous students. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 34(5), 660-672. DOI: 10.1080/01596306.2013.728362

Sheridan, J. W. & Longboat, D. R. (2014). Walking back into creation: Environmental apartheid and the eternal – Initiating an Indigenous mind claim. Space and Culture, 17(3), 308- 324.

Simpson, L. (2011). Dancing on our turtle’s back: Stories of nishnaabeg re-creation, resurgence and a new emergence. ARP Books.

Smith, L. T. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous peoples. Zed.

St. Denis, V. (2009). Rethinking culture theory in Aboriginal education. In C. Levine-Rasky (Ed.) Canadian perspectives on the sociology of education (pp. 163-182). Oxford University Press.

Wilson, S. (2008). Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods. Fernwood.

Downloads

Published

2021-05-30

How to Cite

Conrad, D. H., Moostoos-Lafferty, E. ., Burns, N., & Wentworth, A. . (2021). Decolonizing Educational Practices through Fostering Ethical Relationality in an Urban Indigenous Classroom. McGill Journal of Education / Revue Des Sciences De l’éducation De McGill, 55(2). Retrieved from https://mje.mcgill.ca/article/view/9863

Issue

Section

Notes from the Field