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  • Writer's pictureNyo Malek

The Journey of Unlearning : Decolonizing & Indigenizing Canadian Curriculum

June is designated National Indigenous History Month in Canada, and June 21st is National Indigenous People's Day. This month honours Indigenous people's traditions, cultures, and history. 


Indigenous history in Canada is not just a part of our past, but it's a living reality associated with cultural erasure, colonization, and racial injustice. As Canadians, we are responsible for addressing these issues urgently and working towards changing Canada's colonial past and present. This is about history and shaping a more inclusive and equitable future.

A National Library of Medicine article describes Canada's colonial past as having transgenerational and intergenerational trauma on Indigenous Peoples. The policies enacted and actions used to occupy this country are described as cultural genocide by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Cultural genocide is "the systematic destruction of traditions, values, language, and other elements that make one group of people distinct from another." The effects can be further examined in the context of the social and environmental determinants of the health framework.

As a 27-year-old Canadian, I was not taught any Indigenous history in primary and secondary school. It's a stark reminder that the last residential school was shut down in 1996, just a year before I was born.

Enacting change in the educational system is multi-pronged: addressing shifts in policy, curriculum, and attitudes in primary and secondary schools across Canada. Making these changes has an additional challenge, as institutions have historically and currently upheld whiteness working in alignment with the structural racism experienced in society by BIPOC. 

Educational institutions have a crucial role to play in this change. They must actively decolonize and indigenize their systems to create effective change in Education. This means removing or undoing colonial items and adding or redoing Indigenous acts. It's about putting the power back into the hands of Indigenous peoples and recognizing their ways as equal to Western ways. 


What Can Your Organization Do to Promote Indigeneity? 

  1. Read the TRC's 94 Calls to Action. You are unprepared to enact change without understanding what's being asked to be changed.  

  2. Work with local Indigenous leaders and elders. Understand their perspectives and insights to create the most profound policy changes representing your local community. 

  3. Fairly compensate Indigenous people who enter your organization, including those offering their expertise or sharing their lived experiences.

Recognizing our biases and understanding the past is a crucial first step toward advocating for the reconciliation and Education of Indigenous Peoples' history and rights in Canada.

It's 2024; the time for change to promote indigeneity is overdue.

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