Indigenous Education in Canada
- Jo-ann Archibald – Q’um Q’um XiiemJo-ann Archibald – Q’um Q’um XiiemUniversity of British Columbia
Canadian Indigenous education includes education for Indigenous learners at all levels and ages and learning about Indigenous peoples’ history, cultures/knowledges, and languages for all learners in educational systems. In Canada, the journey of Indigenous people toward self-determination for Indigenous education continues to be a key challenge for government, policy makers, and Indigenous organizations. Self-determination approaches are not new. They originated in traditional forms of education that were created by and for Indigenous peoples. These authentic Indigenous approaches were disrupted by colonial educational policies enacted by state (federal government) and church that separated Indigenous children from their families and communities through boarding and Indian residential schools for over 100 years. Generations of Indigenous people were negatively impacted by these colonial educational policies and legislation, which contributed to lower educational levels among Indigenous peoples compared to non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.
In response, Indigenous peoples have resisted assimilationist attempts by organizing politically, engaging in national research and commissions, and developing educational organizations to regain and revitalize self-determining approaches to Indigenous education. Indigenous peoples have played significant decision-making roles through the following national policies, research, and commissions that created opportunities for educational change: the 1972 Indian Control of Indian Education Policy; the 1991–1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples; and the 2008–2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. A prevalent discourse in Canadian education specifically and Canadian society generally is about reconciliation. For Indigenous peoples, reconciliation cannot happen until educational systems ensure that Indigenous peoples have a central role in making policy and programmatic decisions, and that Indigenous knowledge systems are placed respectfully and responsibly in education at all levels. Another common discourse is about Indigenizing the Academy or Indigenizing education, which also cannot occur without Indigenous people’s direct involvement in key decision-making approaches. The Indigenous educational landscape in Canada is showing signs of slow but steady growth through Indigenous self-determination and Indigenous knowledge approaches to teaching, learning, and research.