A Short History of Indigenous Education in Canada


Indigenous education is a confusing and loaded term that has been defined in many ways historically in Canada, some of which convey completely contradictory goals and outcomes.

We might think of Indigenous education as something different depending on who’s teaching, who’s learning and what is being taught.

Using a medicine wheel as a guide, we can look at themes in Indigenous education historically in Canada tracing the changes from pre-European contact, to early contact, to Colonial education to contemporary movements. The wheel also helps us to see how all themes and currents continue to exist and exert influence even when a new one threatens to supplant the old. In other words, all conceptions of “Indigenous education” continue to manifest in the current moment but to greater degrees of acceptance, power and popularity.

This unit provides an unpacking of the term Indigenous education to explain why it is thought of in such different, sometimes opposing, ways. This lesson will also depict some of the major currents of educational movements related to Indigenous learning.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

Module Topics

You will explore the following topics in this module:

1. The medicine wheel
2. Pre-contact learning
3. Early contact changes Indigenous Education
4. Colonial education
5. Contemporary learning
6. Reclaiming control over education
7. Recognition, apology and reconciliation
8. Reconciliation in action
9. Suggested activities
10. Further resources

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Resource List

Module indigenous worldviews plain text file
Beyond Shadows…Student Success – http://www.ctf-fce.ca/Research-Library/BeyondShadows_EN_Web.pdf
The Medicine Wheel – https://play.library.utoronto.ca/index.php?wZB0eMVqRh9L&id=21762&access=public
Pre-Contact Learning Part 1 – https://media.library.utoronto.ca/play.php?T5nPkWR3xFZ3&id=21763&access=public
Pre-Contact Learning Part 2 – https://media.library.utoronto.ca/play.php?Md530CxcSNMW&id=21764&access=public
Indigenous Education in Early Contact Period – https://media.library.utoronto.ca/play.php?Irv0MWXyKKeY&id=21765&access=public
Colonial Period Part 1 – https://media.library.utoronto.ca/play.php?PJ91mSg9MmVg&id=21766&access=public
Colonial Period Part 2 – https://media.library.utoronto.ca/play.php?kKpAIelz0NrP&id=21767&access=public
Identity Lost & Found – Sixties Scoop – https://fncaringsociety.com/sites/default/files/online-journal/vol3num1/Sinclair_pp65.pdf
Intergenerational Trauma – http://www.nccah-ccnsa.ca/Publications/Lists/Publications/Attachments/142/2015_04_28_AguiarHalseth_RPT_IntergenTraumaHistory_EN_Web.pdf
Residential School Survivors – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdR9HcmiXLA
60’s Scoop – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH_bdlYNnFU
Contemporary Learning Part 1 – https://media.library.utoronto.ca/play.php?JTWSQ0wvFXLH&id=21782&access=public
Contemporary Learning Part 2 – https://media.library.utoronto.ca/play.php?aoMGHTxOmUOc&id=21783&access=public
Reclaiming Control Over Education – http://parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/411/appa/rep/rep03dec11-e.pdf
Federal Funding for First Nations Schools – http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/2_-_fact_sheet_-_funding_first_nations_schools.pdf
Sixties Scoop – http://www.fncfcs.com/pubs/vol3num1/Sinclair_pp65.pdf
Residential School Settlement – http://www.residentialschoolsettlement.ca/detailed_notice.pdf
Statement of Apology – https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/DAM/DAM-INTER-HQ/STAGING/texte-text/rqpi_apo_pdf_1322167347706_eng.pdf
Analysis of the Apology – https://media.library.utoronto.ca/play.php?xtk8AFEGoHdE&id=21771&access=public
Truth and Reconciliation Commission – http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf
Speech Highlights from TRC – https://youtu.be/mN5c6Zdo_ow
Surviving the Survivor – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPX9a5r6uAQ
Kakalakkuvik (Where the Children Dwell) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMB5lZa_v-s

Creative Commons License   Indigenous Education Resources by Jean-Paul Restoule is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://www.oise.utoronto.ca/abed101/. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://www.oise.utoronto.ca/abed101/.