Education in Curriculum and Settler Society
Contemporary Stó:lō Voices through Social Media
Ernie Crey is the Chief of the Cheam First Nation. He is also an advisor to the Stó:lō Tribal Council and co-authored the book Stolen from Our Embrace. He shares many articles on social media pertinent to the conversation on reconciliation, and is well known for his support of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Source: Crey, E. [Cheyom1]. (2013, Sept 19). [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Cheyom1/status/380595914177409024
“Reconciliation efforts include focus on education http://www.straight.com/news/427796/reconciliation-efforts-include-focus-education via @georgiastraight”
Source: 1914 (April) Petition from the Capilano Squamish Band in A Stó:lō-Coast Salish Historical Atlas, 180.
“All the Indians of Squamish band think your Department of Indian Affairs ought to know this and this is why they are writing you, the Petition which I speak of above is about the Potlatch and the Indian Dances, the Indians says we do not harm the Laws of White people when we give Potlatch and the Indian Dances. Indians big times was with Indians when God made this world and we can not stop it are no one would do it.”
Gabriel, Brandon (Kwantlen First Nation Indigenous Artist)
Source: Gabriel, B. [brandongabrielart] (2018, Dec 18) [Photo with text saying #Reconciliation is #fakenews] [Instagram post] Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BrjCsfrHTDL/
Conversation in comments of post:
“From what I can tell right now, is that there definitely is a movement within a minority of public education districts who are doing what they can to address, and acknowledge historic prejudice and injustice. However they are having a much harder time addressing the current and ongoing violent dispossession of Indigenous rights and lands, and are not making any headway in the differing faculties (business, marketing, sciences, math) and having them on board with admitting their culpability to the ongoing struggles. Compounded with Indigenous communities themselves not being adequately trained to know how to address external and internal violent threats, and band governments hijacked by an oppressive and corrupt political system, that further derails any effort to "reconcile" a relationship that was not based on sustainability or set on equal terms to begin with...There isn't a uniform answer. Maybe we need to start by acknowledging that, and stop setting ourselves up for failure, by believing that there is a singular answer.”
Organizer with the Onaman Collective, working towards resurgence of language and land based practices. She describes herself as “a community based artist, environmentalist and advocate for the lands, waters and Indigenous peoples”. In her discussion of reconciliation she almost always brings it back to the land, saying that reconciliation is not possible without the return of land. She places importance on protecting the land and water and her artwork focuses on these themes. She also talks about language learning and the injustices in Canada’s child services.
Contemporary Non-Stó:lō Indigenous Voices through Social Media
Source: Belcourt, C. (2016, Nov) The Revolution has Begun/Published by Onaman Collective [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqBXDPzyLm0
“There is little excuse for Canada to continue to deny First Nations children the right to publicly funded education taught in their mother tongue.” (15:04-15:12)
Source: Belcourt, C. [christibelcourt]. (2017, May 8). [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/christibelcourt/status/861576175151349760
“The educational system is failing Canadians. We'll never get to reconciliation when each gen [generation] is taught settler supremacy. #settlersupremacy”
Source: Bellegarde, P. [perrybellegarde]. (2018, Feb 13). [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/perrybellegarde/status/963426498400067584
“Opening remarks @ AFN Health Transformation Summit: "#Reconciliation demands that #FirstNations are supported in advancing our own health policies, as experts in our own lives w/ the knowledge, ability to overcome the challenges before us' #AFNHealthSummit @IndigPoli #canpoli”
Source: Harris, R. D. (2019, Jan 11). [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/ronniedeanharris/posts/10156245083047582
“The ignorance of mainstream Canadians rests in the education systems...”
Harris, Ronnie Dean
Stó:lō multimedia artist, involved in graphic design, music production, performance, poetry, composing, acting, podcast and radio show hosting, writing, and more. He is the Program Director for Reframing Relations, a program run through the Community Arts Council of Vancouver. He talks about a number of different aspects of reconciliation on social media, notably talking about art as a part of the process, and drawing attention to systemic problems.
Duncan McCue is an Anishinaabe journalist and educator who is a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation. He is the host of CBC’s Cross Country Checkup, worked as a reporter for many years, and teaches journalism at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism and Ryerson University. In 2011, McCue launched an organization called Reporting in Indigenous Communities (RIIC) that serves as an educational guide to help journalists reporting in Indigenous Communities. He has a interesting perspective on role that the media has in making reconciliation a reality.
Source: McCue, D. [duncanmccue] (2019, Jan 14). [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/duncanmccue/status/1084929872462532609
“The TRC was hopeful that media would engage in it's own acts of reconciliation "to ensure that the colonial press truly becomes a thing of the past in twenty-first-century Canada."
Source: McMahon, R. [RMComedy] (2018, June 28). [Tweet] Retrieved from https://twitter.com/RMComedy/status/1012469718131859462
“[…] Serious about reconciliation? Let’s get serious about the MASS unsettling that needs to happen.”
Source: McCue, D. [duncanmccue] (2019, Jan 14).[Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/duncanmccue/status/1084930070433665025
If Cdn journalism schools & media programs don't devote proper resources to delivering Indigenous content in the curriculum, recruiting Indigenous students and instructors, or developing strategic, long-term plans...
An Anishinaabe comedian, writer, media creator and influencer, McMahon is a prominent voice on social media. He has done 3 National comedy specials, records regular podcasts, is building an Indigenous media platform called Indian and Cowboy, and building Makoons Media Group. He makes a lot of criticisms of reconciliation as it is understood in the mainstream, and places emphasis on land.
Contemporary Stó:lō Voices from Scholarship
Dr. Jo-Ann Archibald is an academic and educator. She is a member of the Soowahlie First Nation.Throughout her career she has worked in many different positions, all focused on what she has said was the theme of her career: “try and change the university or the kindergarten to Grade 12 system to make the systems more responsive, respectful of Indigeneity”. (Archibald, 2017)
Quote: “We need to do a lot more in K-12 with teachers to get them better prepared to know more about the impact of colonization, to understand how that has impacted generations of Indigenous people. And to think about how might they start to work with Indigenous families and communities, how might they include more Indigenous knowledge in their practice.
We have now 11 per cent of the K-12 population that are Indigenous, and it will increase. We need to do better as far as the graduation rate.
I believe the post-secondaries have really taken on Indigenizing the academy, and have taken up a lot of the reconciliation, wanting to talk more about how to address the [Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s] Calls to Action. We need to have many more Indigenous faculty members. We need to go through the whole system: K-12, undergraduate and graduate in order to have more faculty members.
At the same time, we have to keep educating non-Indigenous faculty members, so that they can be more responsive in how they teach. And they can do it knowing they have no Indigenous students in their courses: it’s for everybody. It’s part of who we are as Canadians.”
Source: Archibald, J. (2017, August 2). Jo-Ann Archibald, Indigenous Education Leader, on ‘Indigenizing the Academy’/Interviewer K. Hyslop. Retrieved from https://thetyee.ca/News/2017/08/02/Indigenizing-Academy/
“In fact, it is Canadians who need help in realizing that the nature of their society is not of our making and that their acceptance of it taints their national character and their country. It is their responsibility to change their society, which is racist, colonial, and patriarchal to the core.” (p. 46)
“In line with having no clue about their world, Canadians continue to insist that they are ‘better than America.’ There is the myth of the nice Canadians, the just society; meanwhile underneath is all this falsehood. England colonized both America and Canada, then relinquished its hold on both of them at different points in history, but the foundations of the colonial relations established by Britain: racism, slavery, colonialism, and patriarchy… The difference between the the United States and Canada is that Native Americans of the U.S. have much bigger reservations than do we.” (p. 46)
“You can decolonize your mind – if there is no space in your mind that allows for the expertise or superior knowledge of the colonized, then you need to create space for that thought – but that is not actually decolonization.” (p. 119)
“Settlers ought to look at their history, then look in the mirror. After annihilating our populations, and much of the animal life on this continent and in the oceans, and after spoiling the air, the lands, and the waters, who would want to be you?” (p. 126)
Source: Maracle, L. My Conversations with Canadians. Toronto: BookThug, 2017.
Contemporary Non-Stó:lō Voices from Scholarship
“Indigenization of the academy, from a local #Indigenous perspective, is a big part of #reconciliation; the dialogues that occur between our students will lay the foundation for transforming relationships.”
Souce: Reconciliation Canada [Rec_Can] (2018, Dec 7). [Tweet] Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Rec_Can/status/1071072077413781504
Dr. Lorenzo Veracini is a professor in history and politics at Swinburne’s Institute for Social Research. In this book, Veracini discusses settler colonialism as a global and transnational phenomenon, which affects and influences present societies and in his opinion, a phenomenon that doesn’t end, insofar that political, economical, social and legal structures continue to reflect the “founders” institutions and orders. For Lorenzo, reconciliation mainly benefits settler society and allows for a re-legitimacy of its institutions and culture.
Source: Veracini, Lorenzo. Settler Colonialism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
“Settler colonial phenomena... it is premised on the domination of a majority that has become indigenous (settlers are made by conquest and immigration), external domination exercised by a metropolitan core and a skewed demographic balance are less relevant definitory traits. According to these characterizations, colonisers cease being colonisers if and when they become the majority of the population. Conversely, and even more perplexingly, indigenous people only need to become a minority in order to cease being colonised.” Page 5
“Moreover, the very shape of the various national historiographies contributes to making settler colonialism difficult to detect. If in a metropolitan historiographies, the “settler” are undistinguishable from the “emigrants”, and these terms are used interchangeably, in the various national settler historiographies the settlers are the inhabitants of a polity to come: proto-Americans, proto-Australians, and so on. In both instances, the settler can hid behind the emigrant and the future citizen, and the transfer of a specific type of political sovereignty is blocked out by a failure to adopt a transnational perspective.” Page 14
“Highlighting an intractable discontinuity between a colonial past and a postcolonial present is thus part of a settler colonial transferist attitude whereby really existing indigenous people and their unextinguished grievances are seen as illegitimately occupying the indigenous sector of a postcolonial population system (indeed, in these cases a postcolonial condition is invoked precisely to unilaterally deny the very existence of a settler colonial system of relationships). Narrative transfer is then deployed as an instrument of denial.” Page 42
“This transfer focuses on settler continuity, and emphasizes how the settler ethnogenesis happened on the land. In this case, even the acknowledgement of Indigenous prior occupancy enables a type of transfer that ultimately establishes a moral equivalence between conflicting claims- while indigenous people just happened to have arrived earlier - both groups have successfully indigenized.” Page 43
“If settler colonialism in locales where the population economy consisted of variously defined white minorities could not afford decolonization, in white settler nations it was settler exodus that was never an option. In these cases, once the physical disappearance of indigenous peoples had also become a non-visible option, other strategies were developed. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s any of these polities were facing contradictions arising from the encompassing a number of unreconciled “nations within”. In response, the white settler nations initiated a number of political processes envisaging a variously defined post-settler compact, were thus initiated. Projects of national or indigenous reconciliation developed in dramatically different political circumstances and produced varied results; and yet, despite their diversity, these initiatives collectively represent a possible type of post-settler institutional endeavor (especially if it is intended as a process whereby it is the settler entity that reconciles itself with indigenous survival and sovereignty). Nonetheless, even partially reforming the settler structures of the body politic, usually under the impulse of judicially led reforms endorsing constitutional and legislative transformation, has proved painstakingly difficult, has encountered increasing opposition, and in some jurisdictions eventually came to a standstill (or was even reversed).” Page 107
Source: Anker, Kirsten. “Teaching ‘Indigenous peoples and the Law:’ Whose Law?’ Alternative Law Journal. Vol. 33, No. 3 (2008), 132 - 136. Retrieved from http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/AltLawJl/2008/40.pdf.
Dr. Kristen Anker is a professor of law at McGill University with a focus in Aboriginal Law and Indigenous legal traditions. In this short article, Anker discusses the difficulty of addressing Indigenous legal issues within the current monopolized eurocentric legal traditions that focus on statues and court cases. Anker’s main question is, how might Indigenous Law be genuinely incorporated into law curriculum at McGill University and other law schools across Canada? She concludes, for meaningful reconciliation to occur within the judicial system, the “monopoly on the idea of law” must be disregarded and replaced with an inclusive system that includes Indigenous Law and legal traditions.
“The first stumbling block to designing a course that aimed to bring indigenous legal traditions into the conversation about law might even be that the university education system is itself so bound up in the epistemology and ontology shared by European-derived law — distinct subject matters, a reliance on written knowledge, the hierarchical structure of expertise, enlightenment rationality — that the classroom setting may effectively exclude the learning of indigenous law.” Page 134
“...learning indigenous law came in dreams as a result of ceremonies. It was deeply tied to language, to place, and to the specific individual. As in Australia, it may be that aspects of indigenous law are sacred and explicitly not publicly accessible for study.” Page 134
“It would be too easy, however, to receive this creation story in the category ‘myth’ and to exoticise it without questioning the assumption that Western law is opposite to myth. Both the ‘trans’ in transsystemic and the trickster of First Nations stories would have us question the standard order of things, so we next asked where non-indigenous law comes from in North America, and read some of the canonical texts (John Locke, the Royal Proclamation, the Marshall decisions) with mythological lenses, looking to see what it is that myths do: cover up paradoxes, explain the inexplicable, and account for how we get something out of nothing by situating it in the very distant past.” Page 134 - 135
Shirley Williams / Migizi ow-kwe
Shirley Williams is an elder and professor emeritus, Nishnaabemowin language, Indigenous studies at Trent University. She is Odawa-Ojibway, from Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, Manitoulin Island, Ontario.
Source: MacDonald, Moira. “Six Indigenous scholars share their views of Canada at 150.” University Affairs. June 7th, 2017. Retrieved from:
“The greatest thing Canada could do for reconciliation – help restore the languages and cultures that were destroyed. Need to eliminate barriers against First Nations students receiving language instruction at school, need to create programs for adults who lost their languages through the Sixties Scoop, and programs to train and accredit fluent speakers as teachers so they can pass on their knowledge through years of university credits.”
Karla Jessen Williamson: Assistant professor, educational foundations, University of Saskatchewan. Inuk, from Maniitsoq, Greenland.
“There would be respect and recognition for Aboriginal knowledge systems. Funding institutions currently do not recognize the uniqueness of these, so there’s no funding set aside for Indigenous populations to develop and systematically bring these knowledge systems into the academy. Funding cannot be obtained unless a project is done in one of the official languages. In a reconciled Canada, it would be possible to do an entire research project in an Indigenous language using an Indigenous knowledge system, and which could then be reinvested into the institutions where the researchers are working.”
“Universities would also appreciate the special effort Indigenous researchers make to bring Indigenous knowledge into the academy in an authentic way that is respected by our home communities. Indigenous researchers often work with a “two-eyed” perspective, negotiating Western and Indigenous ways of seeing the world as we conduct and present our research. There needs to be sensitivity towards this. The processes in academia have repeatedly shown themselves to be well-oriented towards colonization and can easily bulldoze the unique contributions and knowledge brought by Indigenous scholars.”
Blair Stonechild, PhD
A member of the Muscowpetung First Nation in Saskatchewan, is Professor of Indigenous Studies at the First Nations University of Canada. Dr. Stonechild’s doctoral thesis on First Nations post-secondary policy was published by the University of Manitoba Press as The New Buffalo: The Struggle for Post-Secondary Education in Canada in 2006, and his biography of the singer Buffy Sainte-Marie: It’s My Way, A Saskatchewan Book Award winner, was released in 2012.
Source: Stonechild, Blair, Marlene Brant Castellano. “What needs to change?” EdCan Network. June 9th, 2014. Retrieved from:
Marlene Brant Castellano is a Mohawk mother and grandmother and Professor Emeritus of Trent University, where she provided leadership in the emergence of Indigenous Studies as an academic discipline. In 2005 she was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of her work to advance the well-being of Aboriginal peoples.
“Indigenizing education means that every subject at every level is examined to consider how and to what extent current content and pedagogy reflect the presence of Indigenous/Aboriginal peoples and the valid contribution of Indigenous knowledge. Such an examination would shift the focus from remediating deficits in Aboriginal students to addressing bias and omissions in the educational system.”
“Yet, despite the evidence that Aboriginal people are participants and contributors to the vitality of community in Canada, the prevailing public perception is that we are problems resistant to solution and impediments to economic development. Content about Indigenous societies, coloured by the perspectives of Indigenous knowledge and woven through the curriculum, could diffuse or dispel the residue of colonialist arrogance that maintains stereotypes and prejudice.”
“Education theorists write about the importance of having a positive self-concept in order to learn most effectively. I believe that a key to restoring what has been referred to as the “learning spirit” is the rejuvenation of Aboriginal spiritual beliefs. Elders and many educators talk about the need for holistic education – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.”
“Unfortunately many Aboriginal youth today have lost touch with their spiritual heritage, and elders believe this is the reason why so many turn to substance abuse, crime and involvement in gangs. We as Aboriginal people need to heal ourselves by focusing on the spiritual mission of education, which often gets lost in the clamour for more funding and the politicization of schooling. The elders tell me that it is now time to research, write about and teach the principles of Aboriginal spirituality, something which I and other academics at the First Nations University are attempting to do.”
Contemporary Stó:lō Voices through Recent Interviews
Chief Rhoda Peters (Chawathil First Nation)
“Reconciliation can be something really, really simple... we don’t hear throughout the year good stories regarding interactions between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. We hear the bad ones – we hear the racist stories and I really feel that if we put out the stories that are positive that happen with us when we interact with mainstream society there’d be a message going out there, good things do happen on a daily basis... but to me reconciliation means just being human to each it other. It doesn’t matter what colour, what race, what nationality and I don’t think we see enough of the good things on a daily basis when it comes to interacting with each other... for everyday people... being nice to each other, interacting with each other, understanding and listening... so I don’t look at it big picture, I see it more as a grassroots thing. So, I think interacting in a good way and putting our stories out there helps and have people think about it. They say pass a smile along, do good deeds. I think that we need more of that and have the good stories come out, that would be great.” [8:19 – 10:15]
Ernie Victor (Cheam First Nation)
“To me personally “reconciliation” is a two-way street. It’s not only acceptance of a truth that exists out there. Not only on our part but also on the colonizers part. Understanding a common truth is a big part of this. And acceptance of it. Why I say that’s a big part of it is because understanding and having an inventory of the wrongs that have been done and fully relating to those wrongs. Not just “oh, they went to residential school” but what does that mean intergenerationally, what does that mean to the culture, what does that mean to the specific family? What are the specific things that happened in the schools? So having that inventory of all those wrongs and having an understanding gives you a little bit better base to move forward together. So reconciliation is a choice. To me it’s a big choice. It’s not just a choice on behalf of western Canadian society, it’s also a choice in terms of indigenous people. Having said that, there’s a lot of people who aren’t ready for reconciliation.”
Ernie Victor (Cheam First Nation)
“Having a safe place to learn is probably one of the biggest things in terms of reconciliation. Not to be judged or people laugh at their stories, our ways of teaching, people mock it. “Oh yeah, they feel they came from the mountain goat people”. We have stories that tie us strongly to the mountain goat people. Society will look at it and say “yeah, that’s pretty funny, what a romantic story”. But the teachings from the mountain goat, from something that sits up high, that can see everything and gain a perspective at a high level provides families and communities with a new vision. So there are strong teachings that come from the mountain goat and their way of living that is fundamental, it’s practical. We have people, visionaries who are always seeing more than others. So having a young child talking about his teachings that come from the mountains and the mountain goat people in a school and then being not accepted or that it’s different and frowned upon is not a safe place for learning. Us as Indigenous people, we’re taught to accept differences, not everyone learns the same, not everyone is the same so we’re open to everyone learning how they want to learn or to be who they want to be. So we’re ready for it at that level... And I think that the ability to learn the best things from those stories, whether they’re from the Bible or from the mountain goat people is what I think could be offered from Indigenous ways of learning to society as a whole... So that flipping, that understanding of reconciliation is not only going to be about us becoming a better part of Canada, it’s going to have to have Canada become a better part of what is Indigenous and the land and the water and all the resources. So that’s a big part, probably the biggest part when we say who’s ready.”
Ernie Victor (Cheam First Nation)
“Creating a framework for indigenizing curriculum, teach Indigenous and non-Indigenous children how to look at water a little differently is a step in the right direction, it’s moving forward...”
Brenda Morgan (Matsqui First Nation)
“With the new generations nowadays it’s like they take no ownership with what their ancestors did, right? We’re always trying to pack forward what our ancestors taught us and what’s suppose to be good about us and they teach us what’s bad and you know, they don’t seem to pack any of that knowledge from their ancestors or ownership for what they’ve done...”
Brenda Morgan (Matsqui First Nation)
“And then you look at reconciliation, there in the news talking about it all the time but they’re not providing any education for the greater society. You know, there just throwing out a big word with a bunch of dollar signs to go along with it and it’s creating this anger amongst the non-Aboriginals, then it’s that good old divide and conquer that our governments do so well... recently we have ten year olds screaming at us to get over residential schools... you need to get over it, you get enough free stuff, enough is enough, get over it and these are ten year olds, where do you think that learned behaviour is coming from?... The education part – they’re throwing this big word out there, they’re throwing a bunch of dollar signs out there but they’re not helping to educate their own people. They aren’t helping to validate their own decisions to fix what they did wrong.” 21: 02 - 23:45
Naxaxalhts’i Albert “Sonny” McHalsie (Shxw'ow'hamel First Nation)