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EDDL 5111 Blog Post #5 – Design Perspectives: Indigenization

          I acknowledge living on Treaty 6 and 7 lands in Red Deer, Alberta. This land is the traditional territory of the Blackfoot, Tsuu T’ina, Stoney Nakoda nation, and traditional Métis, Cree, and Saulteaux peoples. I strive to honor and transform my relationship with this land’s traditional people as we move toward reconciliation. It is also important to acknowledge the lens through which I approach reconciliation and my role as a teacher as a Canadian-born, white, Catholic, British woman from a middle to upper socioeconomic class. I understand that these social locations surround me with power and privilege and, in turn, implicit biases that I may not be aware of. Research shows that most preservice teachers are like me, and these teachers reported that “many feel unprepared to adequately represent Indigenous perspectives or fear being accused of cultural appropriation (Milne et al., T., 2023, p. 56). Without this knowledge, how can teachers truly adopt an indigenization lens that is meaningful and not just tokenistic?

          In order for one to see through a different lens, one must be willing to listen empathetically to learn. An Albertan study by Milne and Wotherspoon in 2023 was designed to look at how “ Indigenous students and their parents see themselves represented and supported through educational initiatives to foster reconciliation and how these initiatives are understood by teachers who work with these students” (Milne et al., T., 2023, p. 55). The researchers spoke to various stakeholders, including parents, children, and school staff, to determine what indigenous initiatives were working in the school and what areas needed more support. The findings were that the school had developed “designated spaces where Indigenous programming took place and Indigenous students gathered” (Milne et al., T., 2023, p. 59) for learning and celebrations. Moreover, there were added “initiatives such as Cree language instruction during lunch breaks, Indigenous or Aboriginal Studies courses, and weekly Elder facilitated sharing circles” (Milne et al., T., 2023, p. 59). All of these initiatives were regarded as positive steps towards reconciliation. However, the findings also suggested some systemic issues, such as“the lack of adequate support and preparation for teachers, relatively superficial incorporation of teaching about Indigenous peoples, and discomfort that many Indigenous peoples feel with the education(al)” system. (Milne, et al., 2023, p. 64). Consequently, what was happening seemed to be more tokenistic than authentic learning to promote reconciliation.

          In the second article by Wallin and Tunison (2002), the researchers review a provincial initiative in Saskatchewan called Follow Their Voice. The core purpose of this program is to “foster community engagement in education, transform teacher practice, and improve the educational achievement of Indigenous students in particular” (Wallin et al., S., 2002, p. 77). This initiative encourages all the stakeholders in an indigenous child’s education to come together and discuss “what is needed in order to be successful as a First Nations or Métis student in school” (Wallin et al., 2002, p. 78). Once determined, the plans are actualized through a train-the-trainer model, and “school-based indigenous facilitators work with cohorts of teachers over a four-year cycle to support, observe, monitor and provide feedback to their teacher colleagues as they learn about and implement a range of discursive, culturally responsive instructional strategies (Wallin et al., S., 2002, p. 78). The strength of this initiative is that all decisions, programs, and actions are built on the voices of the indigenous community to inform the teaching and learning environment, making these authentic experiences for potential growth toward reconciliation. By following the people’s voice, empathizing, and being willing to work together, it seems that this is the real road to true reconciliation.


Milne, E., & Wotherspoon, T. (2023). Student, Parent, and Teacher Perspectives on Reconciliation-Related School Reforms. Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education, 17(1), 54–67. https://doi-org.ezproxy.tru.ca/10.1080/15595692.2022.2042803

Wallin, D., & Tunison, S. (2022). “Following Their Voices”: Supporting Indigenous Students’ Learning by Fostering Culturally Sustaining Relational Pedagogies to Reshape the School and Classroom Environment. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 32(2), 75–90. https://wrap2fasd.org/2022/08/02/following-their-voices-supporting-indigenous-students-learning-by-fostering-culturally-sustaining-relational-pedagogies-to-reshape-the-school-and-classroom-environment/


  1. glammie

    Hi Hannah, thanks for sharing. I agree that the starting point and ultimate pathway to reconciliation is through open-mindedness and a willingness to learn how to become culturally sensitive. As a non-white immigrant, I sometimes struggle with differentiating multiculturalism and Indigenization. I am assiduously working on understanding the Indigenous way of knowing and being to be able to adopt and integrate an indigenization lens into my practice effectively.

    • hwinsnes

      Thank you for sharing Gayle. I read an interesting quote in another course I am taking that I would be interested to hear your lens as a non-white immigrant and the idea of multiculturalism in Canada. The below is a definition provided by the author:

      “Multiculturalism is a system of beliefs and behaviors that recognizes and respects the presence of all diverse groups in an organization or society, acknowledges and values their socio-cultural differences, and encourages and enables their continued contribution within an inclusive cultural context which empowers all within the organization or society.” (Rosado, 2017).

      From your lens, is this a real defintion of multiculturalism that is acutalized in Canada? Looking at the history of the Indigenous people of Canada, I think it is fair to say, this definition has/is not consistantly applied in Canada. It would be enlightening to hear if this is true for other cultures. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      Rosado, C. (2017). What makes a school multicultural? Critical Multicultural Pavilion ResearchRoom. Retrieved from http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/papers/caleb/ multicultural.html

  2. lpeter


    I enjoyed reading your perspective on using an Indigenous lens to help preservice teachers be better prepared to work with their Indigenous students.

    Like you, I am of European ancestry. You touch on an essential quandry that non-Indigenous teachers face – that is, we are asked to teach Indigenous perspectives and include Indigenous voices, but we are constantly bumping up against our positionality as non-Indigenous people, so there is a real risk of making mistakes that keep the process of reconciliation from moving ahead. I like that you acknowledge that if there is an authentic way forward, it is through engagement with the Indigenous communities represented by our students.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts,

  3. Jason Fech

    Hannah, I like the direction of the Wallin et al. (2022) article and directly involving the local Indigenous community as mentors for teachers. This seems to be occurring in rural communities with schools that have an Indigenous student population. A school like mine in a large metropolitan centre has very few Indigenous students if any. Our school board has a an Indigenous support team that consists of Elders and are available upon request. We are moving in the right direction as System expectations are there and so it is up to principals to engage in the work to support teachers in the school. I believe Justice Sinclair stated that it took seven generations to create this situation we are in and so it will require a number of generations to repair it. Rebuilding trust will take time.

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