Strategies, Challenges and Further Resources

Strategy: Decolonization and Indigenization

Concordia University’s Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) includes a list of specific strategies for decolonization. Faculty who are not already teaching or working from an Indigenous framework can consider how they incorporate Indigenous content in their courses by attending both institutional and off-campus workshops training on decolonization and Indigeneity, and researching educational resources.

You may find the following areas emphasized in gender and sexuality pedagogical contexts helpful in developing your own teaching approach to decolonizing and indigenizing curriculum:

  1. Focusing on Indigenous history and contemporary issues in Indigenous society, culture, politics and knowledge – including local Indigenous communities and their history and contemporary society, culture, politics, and knowledge;
  2. Learning about gender and sexuality through Indigenous knowledge systems, traditions, and frameworks;
  3. Understanding the relationship between settler colonialism and heteropatriarchy;
  4. Self-education on how to incorporate relevant and appropriate curriculum and pedagogy in courses that examine the role of Indigenous knowledge systems and settler colonialism by engaging with contemporary research produced by and about Indigenous societies, cultures, and politics and knowledge. Including but not limited to:
    • decolonization;
    • Indigenous resurgence;
    • Indigenous sovereignty;
    • Indigenous cultural production and activism; and
    • Indigenous knowledge systems and traditions (when developed and/or presented by Indigenous communities).

Emphasis should be placed on:

  1. Respecting the traditions distinct to Indigenous communities (i.e. not universalizing or generalizing knowledge traditions, systems, practices, or histories);
  2. Drawing on knowledge produced by Indigenous scholars, peoples, nations, and communities whenever possible (rather than drawing exclusively on knowledge produced on Indigenous peoples by non-Indigenous scholars); and
  3. Prioritizing ongoing and thoughtful engagement with Indigenous peoples, cultures, and histories (rather than tokenizing them, i.e., beyond simply adding an “Indigenous” topic week to a course).

Challenge: Cultural Appropriation & Ethnic Fraud

Debates have emerged about the role of cultural appropriation, self-identification, self-indigenization, and ethnic fraud in post-secondary institutions (Leroux 2019). In many fields, including sexuality studies, a number of scholars and public figures have been at the centre of controversies around accusations of false identity claims and the appropriation of Indigenous cultures, such as non-Indigenous people using the term “Two-Spirit.” Students are often familiar with these debates and have strong views and perspectives in discussing such cases. Further, Indigenous students, staff, faculty, and scholars may be differently positioned institutionally; some might experience these cases as acts of colonization; others may feel their own identity and belonging called into question—especially when considering the legacy of federal assimilationist policies that organized Canada’s relationship to Indigenous peoples through the Indian Act, residential school system, 60s scoop, and child welfare system.

Faculty teaching this material should familiarize themselves with the authors and texts they use as part of preparation for class. This is especially important when faculty choose to use texts by authors who have been publicly named by Indigenous communities as falsely representing their membership, status, or belonging. In these cases, faculty should exercise care and attention to how these texts are introduced in the class by explaining the context around controversies and accusations, explaining why these texts are being used, and facilitating space for difficult discussions in class.

For further discussion on navigating difficult discussions in the classroom, see our section Navigating Difficult Pedagogical Dynamics.


Learning about Violence Enacted on Indigenous Peoples

In many fields, such as social work, history, education, and gender and sexuality studies, learning about Indigenous peoples involves learning about violence. Indigenous students are likely to find themselves in a difficult situation when learning about historic and contemporary violence enacted against Indigenous peoples in classes primarily populated by non-Indigenous students and/or a non-Indigenous professor. In such cases, repeated exposure to Indigenous content as it relates to violence can be harmful to Indigenous students (D’Arcangelis, Gamache, Hrynyk and Lennon 2024). Faculty drawing on this kind of content should consider balancing learning about violence enacted on Indigenous peoples with content that illustrates Indigenous self-determination, governance, culture, and knowledge production.

Resources

Decolonization and Indigenization
Academic Scholarship on Decolonization and Settler Colonialism
Territorial Acknowledgements
Pedagogical Tools, Materials, and References
Truth and Reconciliation

Access to this chapter’s Zotero

Decolonization and Indigenization

Appleton, Nayantara Sheoran. 2019. “Do Not ‘Decolonize’… If You Are Not Decolonizing: Progressive Language and Planning Beyond a Hollow Academic Rebranding,” Critical Ethnic Studies. University of Minnesota Press. February 4.
Campbell, Tara. 2020. A Copy Editor’s Education in Indigenous Style. The Tyee. January.
Center for Teaching and Learning, Concordia University. Strategies for Decolonizing Curriculum and Pedagogy.
Concordia University Library. Indigenous Educational Resources for Faculty and Students.
Goodleaf, Kahérakwas Donna. Indigenous Decolonization Hub. Centre for Teaching and Learning, Concordia University.
Karuka, Manu. 2017. “Black and Native Visions of Self-Determination.” Critical Ethnic Studies 3 (2): 77–98.
Lawford, Karen and Veldon Coburn. 2019. Research, Ethnic Fraud, And the Academy: A Protocol For Working With Indigenous Communities And Peoples. The Yellowhead Institute. August 20.
Samson, Natalie. 2019. Indigenization efforts vary widely on Canadian campuses, study finds. University Affairs. April 16.
Toronto Abolition Convergence. 2020. An Indigenous Abolitionist Study Guide. The Yellowhead Institute. August 10.

 

Academic Scholarship on Decolonization and Settler Colonialism

Barker, Joanne. 2017. Critically Sovereign: Indigenous Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Byrd, Jodi A. 2019. “Weather with You: Settler Colonialism, Antiblackness, and the Grounded Relationalities of Resistance.” Critical Ethnic Studies 5(1-2): 207-214.
Cook-Lynn, Elizabeth. 1997. “Who Stole Native American Studies?Wicazo Sa Review 12(1): 9-28.
Coulthard, Glen Sean. 2014. Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Day, Iyko. 2015. “Being or Nothingness: Indigeneity, Antiblackness, and Settler Colonial Critique.” Critical Ethnic Studies 1(2): 102-21.
Dei, George JS. 2018. Reframing Blackness and Black Solidarities Through Anti-Colonial and Decolonial Prisms. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.
Harris, Cheryl I. 2019. “Of Blackness and Indigeneity: Comments on Jodi A. Byrd’s ‘Weather with You: Settler Colonialism, Antiblackness, and the Grounded Relationalities of Resistance’.” Critical Ethnic Studies 5(1-2): 215-227.
Lawrence, Bonita, and Enakshi Dua. 2005. “Decolonizing Antiracism.” Social Justice 32(4- 102): 120-43.
Leroux, Daryl. 2019. Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.
Lethabo King, Tiffany. 2019. The Black Shoals: Offshore Formations of Black and Native Studies. Durham & London: Duke University Press.
Mackey, Eva. 2016. Unsettled Expectations: Uncertainty, Land and Settler Decolonization. Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.
Maynard, Robyn. 2019. “Black Life and Death Across the U.S.–Canada Border.” Critical Ethnic Studies 5(1-2): 124-151.
Medak-Saltzman, Danika and Antonio T. Tiongson Jr. 2015. “Racial Comparativism Reconsidered.” Critical Ethnic Studies 1(2): 1-7.
Morgensen, Scott Lauria. 2011. Spaces Between Us: Queer Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Decolonization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Newton, Melanie J. 2013. “Returns to a Native Land: Indigeneity and Decolonization in the Anglophone Caribbean.” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism 17 (2): 108–22.
Sexton, Jared. 2016. “The Vel of Slavery: Tracking the Figure of the Unsovereign.” Critical Sociology 42(4-5):583-597.
Sharma, Nandita, and Cynthia Wright. “Decolonizing Resistance, Challenging Colonial States.” Social Justice 35.3(113): 120-38.
Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. 2016. “Indigenous Resurgence and Co-resistance.” Critical Ethnic Studies 2(2): 19-34.
Stewart-Ambo, Theresa and K. Wayne Yang. 2021. “Beyond Land Acknowledgment in Settler Institutions.” Social Text 39 (1): 21-46.
Tuck, Eve and K. Wayne Yang. 2012. “Decolonization is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society. 1(1): 1-40.

Territorial Acknowledgements

Hopkins, Candice, Ange Loft, Lindsay Nixon, and Ilana Shamoon. 2019. A New Kind of Land Acknowledgement. Canadian Art. August 22.
Jones, Alison, and Native Land. Territory Acknowledgement:
→ A crowd-sourced map of indigenous territory to assist in developing your acknowledgement. Includes many helpful links and resources.
King, Hayden. 2019. “‘I regret it’: Hayden King on writing Ryerson University’s territorial acknowledgement,” CBC Radio. January 18, 2019.
Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group. Know the Land Territories Campaign.
Stewart-Ambo, Theresa, and K. Wayne Yang. 2021. “Beyond Land Acknowledgment in Settler Institutions.” Social Text 39 (1): 21–46.
Vowel, Chelsea. 2016. Beyond Territorial Acknowledgements. âpihtawikosisân: language, law, culture. September 23.
Wemigwans, Jennifer and Lanna MacKay. 2023. “The Haudenosaunee Ohén:ton Karihwatéhkwen Thanksgiving Address: Moving Beyond the Havoc of Land Acknowledgements.” Engaged Scholar Journal. 9(2): 1-21.

Pedagogical Tools, Materials, and References

D’Arcangelis, Carol Lynne, Mylène Yannick Gamache, Nicholas Hrynyk, Suzanne Lenon. 2024. “Regional Perspectives on Gender and Sexuality in the Classroom.” Reading the Room: Lessons on Pedagogy and Curriculum from the Gender and Sexuality Studies Classroom. Ed. Natalie Kouri-Towe. Montreal: Concordia University Press.
Decolonial Toolbox: Educational Pathway
Palmater, Pam. “Why do Indigenous Topics Cause such Emotional Discomfort” (video)
CBC Arts. 2018. There’s a massive free catalogue of Indigenous films online—and we have 6 picks to get you started. CBC.ca. April 18.
Smith, Jackson, Cassandra Puckett, and Wendy Simon. 2015. Indigenous Allyship: An Overview. Office for Aboriginal Initiatives, Wilfrid Laurier University.
Swiftwolfe, Dakota. Indigenous Ally Toolkit. Montreal Indigenous Community Network.
Warren-Grice, April. 2018. Decolonize Your Syllabus. Liberated Genius. September 13.
Zvogbgo, Kelebogile. Twitter post. June 25, 2021.

Truth and Reconciliation

Palmater, Pam. “Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Universities and Colleges.” Warrior Life (blog). May 17, 2019.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Archived at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Website.
University of Manitoba. National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (website). Reports.

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Better Practices in the Classroom by Natalie Kouri-Towe and Myloe Martel-Perry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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