Canadian Trivia: What is missing in our Educational System?

Published: January 24, 2022

by Sofia Pineda, Science & Policy Exchange

Do you know when Nunavut became an official province? April 1st ,1999! Another thing to recall for geography class!

On the other hand, if asked “Do you remember when Nunavut became an official province?”, the majority of Canadians, regardless of their cultural background, education, or social status who experienced this unique moment in Canadian history will likely relive the year 1999.

On this International Day of Education, it is interesting to note how memorization techniques like the loci technique, a method to link a new concept or idea to a familiar location, assists us in making facts more relevant to our everyday life. Likewise, multicultural and place-based education can create relevant and deep-rooted connections between students and the community, decentering western knowledge systems and contributing to reconciliation.

In the context of education, decentering western knowledge systems implies the act of challenging, rebuilding, and reconciling contemporary educational systems with the historically subjugating colonization practices of a culture, institution, knowledge, and/or power relations. It calls for the implementation of liberating structure principles such as healing, empowerment, reflection, and connection to place and community.

For instance, the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives and knowledge in education frees students and educators to experience the repatriation of Indigenous land and the recognition of a nation through the repatriation and revitalization of cultural heritage; to expand their circle of influence through Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI); to make continuous contributions to education and society, and significantly more. As such, diversification of education is both a responsive epistemic philosophy and a proactive life-learning process for all.

Check out this article to find out which Indigenous lands you are living on!

Reconciliation by Indigenizing Education in Canada

Can you identify any Indigenous inventions in Canada? Make sure to include a pine tree tea cough syrup, petroleum jelly, a pre-Columbian syringe, spruce chewing gum, and over 400 natural medicines and remedies!

Transforming all educational curriculum through open dialogue, collaboration, and participation with Indigenous peoples is beneficial because education is a tool for social progress. Thus, it is through education that it is possible to achieve the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership between nations put forth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action report in 2015. The 5 R’s of Indigenous Pedagogy for creating inclusive online spaces includes a fifth term: “Relationships [that] are reciprocal between teacher and student, and … foster connection to community and self”. As a result, a transformative curriculum can impact all learning environments to make education socially relevant!

Moreover, educational institutions as socio-political systems can acknowledge and draw on the history and experience of indigenous people and underrepresented minorities in order for students to transfer this same open and less biased educational outlook to the larger socio-political administration of provinces, territories, and the federal state. This corresponds to an active participation in evidence-based decision making through critical analysis and the inherent application of EDI principles in higher education and beyond.

When education and academia become culturally and socially relevant to all people living in Canada, there is greater potential to foster unique perspectives and pedagogical approaches, provide opportunities and a sense of belonging in STEM careers and science policy, and finally pave the way toward scientific advancement and innovation.

The good news? This outcome is already part of our multicultural Canadian heritage!

Today’s recognition of Indigenous rights to self-determination through education can establish a genuine and amicable partnership between Indigenous peoples, non-indigenous people living in Canada, and the Government of Canada for many generations to come.

Here are additional ideas on how to create an equitable and inclusive environment in academia.

Canva, Connectivity Principle

What is missing then?

Choosing to make an Indigenized and Diversified Canadian education part of our nations’ memory.

Let’s make Canadian education relevant!