Moving from Decolonizing to Anti-Colonial
It has been a while since I have written, mainly because I have been really busy teaching and presenting. This means I don't get a lot of time to pause and think and write. This past semester teaching preservice educators has got me really digging deep in thinking about how to prepare them for teaching. What tools can I give to support them in the field? So this is where my writing is coming from in this moment.
Throughout my journey this past year in teacher education I have been speaking to and about decolonizing education. As I move through my learning and teaching about this topic, I am finding out that words really matter in how we talk about things. I recently told my education class of new educators, that I don’t use the term “Indigenize”. I personally feel like this term is surface level to what we are asking our new educators to do. I think about it in a way that if I were to include French into my lesson, we don’t say we are Frenchizing the lesson, or when learning about WW2, we are not Germinizing a lesson. So then why would we use this term “Indigenizing” to talk about the critically important things that we need to be doing in our education system? My thinking has shifted to the word anti-colonial. I believe this is the term that is needed to addressed what is missing in our education system. We can’t just educate about Indigenous art, Indigenous people and their regalia, we need to be educating about how the colonial system in place in this country now known as Canada, has systematically and with intent, stripped Indigenous people of who they are as humans. We should be teaching about Indigenous art and regalia. Include in that story, the laws in place that made it illegal for Indigenous people to wear regalia in public, illegal to practice Indigenous ceremonies, and about the laws put in place that made it illegal to speak Indigenous languages. The word anti-colonial addresses making visible what has and continues to be invisible within our education system. If we are just talking about residential schools and the effects they have had on Indigenous people, without talking about the governmental laws in place that created them, then we are missing a key point of the history of this land. We are missing the opportunity to teach about the people who created the schools, the laws put in place that made it mandatory for Indigenous people to send their children to these places they called schools. You are also missing the people that fought back with reports to close the schools. Missing out on the intentional piece, that these places they called schools were to completely sever Indigenous peoples ties to their language, culture, and identity. If you only focus on the suffering, you are missing the point of the intention. Which is what we need in education, the truth of how this land came to be known as Canada.
Moving forward in my anti-colonial work with educators and preservice teachers, I think about Sande Grande words from Red Pedagogy: These pre-service teachers see the good teacher as “neutral” and “normal” whereas I see the “good teacher” as deriving from white supremacy.
Grande is addressing the point that education is not neutral, it is upholding the colonial system and reproducing the colonial system. She argues that we need to educate about white supremacy and how it operates invisibly throughout our system. Pieces of our colonial history that are not taught in our classrooms is what makes it possible to continue the narrative of Canada being this beautiful melting pot of multiculturalism. Which is not the true story of this land. This is not how this country came to be. The truth is, this country is built upon colonialism, capitalism, genocide, and the stealing of land and resources from the original people of this land. There is so much that is not taught in our schools today and we as educators need to start addressing the truth in all the teaching we do. Within the weeks ahead, I am going to be writing blog post about how we can address colonialism in teaching practice. How you can apply and address colonialism within teaching to make sure you are telling the whole story of this place. Keep coming back to my blog as I walk through how to teach the truth about how this land, we all live on came to be known as Canada. I am looking forward to your comments and feedback as I write.