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Indigenization of Teaching and Learning

CTL Principle on Indigenization

Ewicihitoyak – We believe relationship is foundational to support Indigenous ways of knowing.

We recognize and support the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We acknowledge the educational role we have in building common ground between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. We believe that the education system must be transformed to reject the racism embedded in colonial systems of education and treat Indigenous and Euro-Canadian knowledge systems with equal respect. We advocate reconciliation through the integration of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis voices, perspectives, and experiences.

To see the full list of CTL Principles visit our Principles of Practice [1] page.

To see Red Deer College’s Indigenous Education Strategic Plan, visit the Building Bridges: An Indigenous Education Strategic Plan for Red Deer College (Nov. 2018 edition) [2] document.


Truth and Reconciliation Commission:

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada completed its six year truth-telling into the history and impact of residential schools in Canada and released its Calls to Actions and Final Report to the Canadian Government. Of the 94 Calls to Action laid out by the TRC, over 70 relate to Education. As Justice Murray Sinclair has said:

    “Education is what got us into this mess — the use of education at least in terms of residential schools — but education is the key to reconciliation because we need to look at the way we are educating children. That’s why we say that this is not an aboriginal problem. It’s a Canadian problem.”

Source: Truth and Reconciliation Commission urges Canada to confront ‘cultural genocide’ of residential schools [3] article, CBC

Calls to Action, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report

The Calls to Action redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation. Many of the Calls to Action are aimed at Canadian society as a whole, others have a direct link to post-secondary education.



Global/National Context:
Canada officially adopts U. N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. May 10, 2016. As Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said:

    “We intend nothing less than to adopt and implement the declaration in accordance with the Canadian Constitution.”

Source: Canada officially adopts UN declaration on rights of Indigenous Peoples [6] article, CBC

Provincial Context: Alberta Government


Institutional Context: Indigenous Education Protocol for Colleges and Institutes

Colleges and Institutes are key providers of applied postsecondary education for Indigenous communities across Canada. They are often the only postsecondary institution present in remote northern communities and many of them have been working actively to create curriculums that respect indigenous values and cultures.

Colleges and institutes respect and recognize that Indigenous people include First Nation, Métis and Inuit people, having distinct cultures, languages, histories and contemporary perspectives.

They recognize that indigenous education emanates from the intellectual and cultural traditions of Indigenous peoples in Canada. They also believe that Indigenous education will strengthen colleges’ and institutes’ contribution to improving the lives of learners and communities.

In order to reaffirm the importance of Indigenous education, Colleges and Institutes Canada, in consultation with its members and partners in indigenous communities has developed an Indigenous Education Protocol. This important document underscores the importance of structures and approaches required to address Indigenous peoples’ learning needs and support self-determination and socio-economic development of Indigenous communities.

This protocol is founded on seven principles that aim to guide the institutions who will agree to sign on to this aspirational document.

Signatory institutions agree to:

  1. Commit to making Indigenous education a priority.
  2. Ensure governance structures recognize and respect Indigenous peoples.
  3. Implement intellectual and cultural traditions of Indigenous peoples through curriculum and learning approaches relevant to learners and communities.
  4. Support students and employees to increase understanding and reciprocity among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
  5. Commit to increasing the number of Indigenous employees with ongoing appointments throughout the institution, including Indigenous senior administrators.
  6. Establish Indigenous-centred holistic services and learning environments for learner success.
  7. Build relationships and be accountable to Indigenous communities in support of self-determination through education, training and applied research.

Source: Indigenous Education Protocol [11], Colleges and Institutes Canada

Note: Red Deer College became a signatory in 2019.

  1. Ensure institutional commitment at every level to develop opportunities for Indigenous students.

  2. Be student-centered: focus on the learners, learning outcomes and learning abilities, and create opportunities that promote student success.

  3. Recognize the importance of indigenization of curricula through responsive academic programming, support programs, orientations, and pedagogies.

  4. Recognize the importance of Indigenous education leadership through representation at the governance level and within faculty, professional and administrative staff.

  5. Continue to build welcoming and respectful learning environments on campuses through the implementation of academic programs, services, support mechanisms, and spaces dedicated to Indigenous students.

  6. Continue to develop resources, spaces and approaches that promote dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

  7. Continue to develop accessible learning environments off-campus.

  8. Recognize the value of promoting partnerships among educational and local Indigenous communities and continue to maintain a collaborative and consultative process on the specific needs of Indigenous students.

  9. Build on successful experiences and initiatives already in place at universities across the country to share and learn from promising practices, while recognizing the differences in jurisdictional and institutional mission.

  10. Recognize the importance of sharing information within the institution, and beyond, to inform current and prospective Indigenous students of the array of services, programs and supports available to them on campus.

  11. Recognize the importance of providing greater exposure and knowledge for non-Indigenous students on the realities, histories, cultures and beliefs of Indigenous people in Canada.

  12. Recognize the importance of fostering intercultural engagement among Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, faculty and staff.

  13. Recognize the role of institutions in creating an enabling and supportive environment for a successful and high quality K-12 experience for Aboriginal youth.

Recognizing that other stakeholders have a role to play – governments, businesses, Indigenous organizations – university leaders also commit to the following actions to bring these principles to life:

  • Raise awareness within institutions about the importance of facilitating access and success for Indigenous students on campus.

  • Raise awareness among government partners and stakeholders of these commitments and the importance of investing in sustainable initiatives that advance higher education opportunities for Indigenous youth.

  • Raise awareness in public discourse of positive Indigenous students’ experience in university and their contributions to Canadian society.

  • Develop partnerships with the private sector to foster opportunities for Indigenous people.

  • Continue to listen to and collaborate with Indigenous communities.

About Universities Canada
Universities Canada is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, advancing higher education, research and innovation for the benefit of all Canadians.

Source: https://www.univcan.ca/media-room/media-releases/universities-canada-principles-on-indigenous-education/ [12]
K – 12 Curriculum, Alberta

Indigenous/Aboriginal Context

Indigenous learning addresses the whole person, encompassing the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional capabilities of that person in relation to all living things. This unified vision is in contrast to the European focus on an analytic approach, and the fragmentation of concepts within discrete disciplines. For Indigenous peoples, analysis is cumulative, collaborative, and circular. These ways of knowing are reflected in Indigenous worldviews, which emphasize connectivity, relationality, and interrelatedness.

Language reflects worldview. Most Aboriginal languages focus on action and transformation (Cree uses more verbs than nouns), relationship, and more than one way of understanding. For Aboriginal peoples, there may be multiple realities. There is no such thing as absolute truth; all truth is relative to a particular context, and reality is represented in the relationship one has with truth. Thus, an object or thing is not as important as one’s relationships to it. Reality is represented in relationships, which means that reality is not a static state – it is a process, and this process will be different for each person.

Used with Permission, Nov. 7, 2016: Aboriginal Worldviews, Suzanne Methot, Dragonfly Consulting Services Canada

Source: Aboriginal Worldviews, Dragonfly Consulting Services Canada



Suggested Reading List

The following list contains fifteen books from June 2016 Indigenous Book Club Month. If you unsure where to start the CTL recommends The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King and The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew.

Further Information and Opportunities

Please contact CTL learning designer Kasey Fulton (kasey.fulton@rdc.ab.ca [21]) if you have questions about next steps, such as resources, courses you can take, curriculum development or if you would like to know what is currently happening on campus.

ctl@rdc.ab.ca [22] | 403.356.4989 | Teaching Common – 913C | Find us on theLoop | Find us on Twitter [23]and Facebook [24]@ctlrdc
Updated June 9, 2020