Indigenization of Teaching and Learning

CTL Principle on Indigenization

We believe and support that education is a key to reconciliation.

We recognize and support the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and the U. N. Declaration on the Rights of Aboriginal Peoples. We acknowledge the educational role we have in building common ground between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. We believe that the education system must be transformed to reject the racism embedded in colonial systems of education and treat Aboriginal 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 page.


Truth and Reconciliation Commission:

(Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report)

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.”

Justice Murray Sinclair

Source: Truth and Reconciliation Commission urges Canada to confront ‘cultural genocide’ of residential schools 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.



The terminology used on indigenization is not always agreed upon and may vary from individual to individual. Here is a link to a guide on terminology provided by First Nations and Indigenous Studies, The University of British Columbia.

Another term to know:

Cognitive imperialism: a form of colonization that denies people their language and cultural integrity by maintaining the legitimacy of only one language, one culture, and one frame of reference.


Global/National Context:

Canada officially adopts U. N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. May 10, 2016.
“We intend nothing less than to adopt and implement the declaration in accordance with the Canadian Constitution.” Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett

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

Provincial Context: from Alberta Education


Alberta Education is committed to improving education outcomes and creating opportunities for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students in Alberta.

Our goal is to ensure all students have equitable opportunities for success. Targeted supports and close collaboration are required to realize the vision that all First Nations, Métis and Inuit students in Alberta achieve or exceed the educational outcomes set for Alberta students.

Our Role

We work with partners to:

  • Provide supports for First Nations, Métis and Inuit student success
  • Ensure all Alberta students are knowledgeable, understanding and respectful of the rich diversity of First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures, languages and histories; the importance of Treaties; and the legacy of residential schools
  • Engage and support First Nations, Métis and Inuit in fulfilling their vision for a K-12 education system that honours Indigenous history, cultures, languages and perspectives
  • Build strong relationships with schools and school authorities; First Nations and First Nation organizations; the Metis Settlements General Council; the Métis Nation of Alberta; Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada; and other ministries; to support the success of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students

Source: Supporting Student Success, Alberta Education

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, Colleges and Institutes Canada

Note: Red Deer College is not currently a signatory.
K – 12 Teachers, 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.

  • Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Simpson
  • Birdie by Tracey Lindberg
  • Celia’s Song by Lee Maracle
  • Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson
  • The Pemmican Eaters by Marilyn Dumont
  • North End Love Songs by Katherena Vermette
  • Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
  • The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
  • The Lesser Blessed by Richard Van Camp
  • The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
  • Up Ghost River by Edmund Metatawabin and Alexandra Shimo
  • Un/inhabited by Jordan Abel
  • The Red Files by Lisa Bird­-Wilson
  • The Right to Be Cold by Sheila Watt-­Cloutier
  • The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew

Further Information and Opportunities

Please contact CTL learning designer Kasey Fulton 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.