Màwandòsewin: Gathering of the Indigenous Curriculum Specialists Network

Co-Applicants: Vanthuyne, K., & Wiscutie-Crépeau, N., & Gauthier, G., & Macdougall, B., Ng-A-Fook, N., & Tolly, M., & Alycia, V.

Research Team:

Duration: 2023-2024

Funding: Social Science and Humanities Research Council Connection Grant


Indigenous students who graduate post-secondary education in Canada is only 8% compared to 20% of the non-Indigenous population (Statistics Canada 2013). Consequently, Indigenous scholars here in Canada (Battiste 2013) and elsewhere (Mihesuah & Wilson 2004) have called for “Indigenizing the academy”. Moreover, the Calls for Action released by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 led to the commitment of Universities Canada (representing 97 Canadian universities) to address that educational injustice, stimulating further programmatic, curricular, and policy reform in higher education institutions, and the hire of Indigenous Curriculum Specialists (ICSs).

ICSs now support their administrators and faculty in developing or improving Indigenized curricula — i.e., programs, courses and pedagogical practices that meaningfully include both Indigenous perspectives on existing disciplines, and the teaching and learning practices identified by Indigenous knowledge keepers as best suited to respectfully transmit them. ICSs’ work, however, continues to be hampered by the limited dedication of annual resources necessary to address this large-scale mandate (Raffoul et al. 2022). It is also severely burdened by daily interactions with non-Indigenous academics who continue to resist addressing their enduring complicity in reproducing the ongoing logics of settler colonialism in their research, teaching, and beyond (Vanthuyne and Dussault 2022; Howell & Ng-A-Fook, 2021).

Building on three years of research collaborations between established researchers and key Indigenous players in the field of the Indigenization of higher education, the proposed event and outreach activities aim to address these two key challenges. By offering land-based teachings to ICSs, and facilitating their co-creation of resources, this knowledge mobilization (KM) initiative will consolidate their support systems and toolbox. In addition, round panel discussions on the factors deemed essential for the successful Indigenization of higher education from ICSs’ perspectives will afford curricular and pedagogical opportunities for rarely seen but much needed participatory and intersectoral dialogues between these specialists and decision and policymakers in the field of post-secondary education (Cote-Meek, S. & T. Moeke-Pickering. 2020). These conversations will afford us opportunities to enrich our research team’s analysis of the contextual factors required for the successful decolonizing Indigenization of post-secondary education through ICS-led initiatives. In turn, it will enable our team to respond to collaborate further with ICS while also responding to a significant gap in the French and English scholarly literature on this key topic. The bilingual policy briefs and podcasts we will produce shortly after will finally ensure the optimal knowledge uptake of this KM initiative by all the actors involved in enhancing Indigenous people’s decolonized inclusion in higher education throughout Canada and beyond.

Indigenous and other racialized groups in Canada are increasingly pressuring our educational institutions to challenge, disrupt, and where possible eradicate settler colonialism and ongoing institutional forms of systemic racism (for ex. Henry and al. 2017). Through centering Indigegogy, the wholistic Indigenous approach to teaching Indigenous knowledges in Indigenous ways, this Indigenous-led event and outreach activities will significantly contribute to building truly inclusive, decolonized campuses. Such campuses proactively acknowledge the traditional territories they sit on, through engaging in renewed relationships with their Indigenous guardians—that is, relationships grounded in reciprocity and shared authority and responsibilities.

* This project is supported by Social Science and Humanities Research Council Connection Grant with Vanthuyne, K., & Wiscutie-Crépeau, N., & Gauthier, G., & Macdougall, B., Ng-A-Fook, N., & Tolly, M., & Alycia, V. as co-applicants. Click here to view more SSHRC funded projects.