Co-Curricular-Making: Honouring Indigenous Connections to Land, Culture, and the Relational Self

Co-Applicants: Latta, Macintyre, L., Ragoonaden, K., & Cherkowski, S., & Donald, D., & Hare, J., & Styres, S., & Ng-A-Fook, N.

Duration: 2020-2024

Funding: Social Science and Humanities Research Council Partnership Grant


Challenges: Canadian K-12 education has a weighty history. Colonization and residential schools violently undermined Indigenous cultures and disrupted families and communities for generations. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action formalized Canadian educators’ moral and ethical responsibilities to advance reconciliation. Educators are taking up the challenge of decolonizing their pedagogies. But, in striving to embrace this heavy curricular responsibility, many are confronted by lack of Indigenous content knowledge, alongside a lack of practice in negotiating the complexities of holding reconciling conversations with their students, colleagues, and extended communities. Educators’ knowledge of local Indigenous histories, cultures, and places must be strengthened. Without such strengthening, educators across all disciplines are hesitant to Indigenize their curricula.

To realize the transformative potential that education holds, the profession needs long-term investment in educators’ knowledge, with curricular practices that orient towards individual/collective agency, growth, and wellbeing. Orienting curricular enactment accordingly requires educators to attend to the strengths and particularities of their students, the specifics of context and content, and the resources of place. This is highly localized, culturally specific work.

As allies in teacher education, the team behind this project seeks to identify respectful ways for educators to decolonize pedagogies. Our community and university partners will each commit their own education-oriented resources and expertise. We seek to walk together to map out needed curricular sensibilities, understandings, and enactment, to enhance our efforts towards reconciliation.

Goals and Objectives: Our goals are to articulate reciprocal curricular pathways for educators and their students; to enhance understandings of Indigenous cultures and supports related to these groups; and to mobilize local, place-based, land-based First Nations ways of knowing and being.

Our first objective, which will address our goals in our region, is to facilitate professional inquiry opportunities to disrupt educators’ colonial pedagogies. We will co-design and facilitate learning experiences with our community partners: the Okanagan Nation Alliance, Kelowna Museums Society, Kelowna Art Gallery, Central Okanagan Public Schools–Indigenous Education, and IndigenEYEZ.

These experiences will be designed to study the curricular conditions and supports that challenge all to participate in reconciling conversations, grapple with personal narratives, and foreground histories of colonized and colonizers. Local Knowledge-Keepers and Elders will engage with educators and the extended community, fostering decolonizing pedagogies in collaboration with the resources and expertise being generated through the partnership.

Our second objective is to bring our findings into conversation with university partners and co-applicants (U of Alberta, U of Ottawa, and U of Toronto), integrating our work with approaches in these regions to further reconciling efforts. Building on the findings of our team’s SSHRC Partnership Development Grant (2016) and our two Insight Grants (2016; 2017), and integrating with related efforts in these three Faculties of Education, our partnership will instill, sustain, and mobilize prospective and current educators’ pedagogical knowledge. Such capacity-building will productively contribute to reconciling efforts across the country.

Breadth of the Partnership: With our five local partners, we will provide an Okanagan model of practice, and, engaging our university.

* This project is supported by Social Science and Humanities Research Council Partnership Grant with Latta, Macintyre, L., Ragoonaden, K., & Cherkowski, S., & Donald, D., & Hare, J., & Styres, S., & Ng-A-Fook, N. as co-applicants. Click here to view more SSHRC funded projects.