Decolonizing Education for Indigenous people

Introduction

The effects of colonialism have continued to be felt even today. The indigenous people continue to face various challenges connected to the impacts of colonialism. The social, as well as economic challenges that they are still facing, are such as poverty, family violence, food insecurity as well as substance abuse. The problems have adversely affected their health as well as their entire wellbeing. It is, therefore, crucial to deal with this issue as the indigenous people such as the Métis, and Inuit peoples are fellow human beings, who should have a good life too. One of the ways of doing it is by decolonizing education. Just as Battiste said, “education can be liberating or be an avenue of maintaining domination. Therefore we should use it to liberate these indigenous individuals. In this work, we will examine the course of change to use in the decolonization of the education system, and I will come up with a letter to argue for steps towards the decolonization of education.

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The course of Change to Decolonize the Education System for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples

Many leaders have come up to help in the enhancement of the indigenous communities. One such leader is Wynne who once told TVOS Steve one day about her desire to help the aborigine community especially children, “you should help a generation of kids to do better” (TVO, 2012) one of the ways of helping them is through decolonization of the education system. The Métis and Inuit people believe that education should be lifelong, holistic, integrating culture as well as spiritually oriented, but this is not the case with the current education system. These goals that they believe in have not been adequately reflected in the formal education system. Various scholars, such as Battiste have argued that the system has failed; therefore, it needs to be corrected. “Exclusive use of Eurocentric knowledge in education has failed indigenous children.” (Battiste, 2017)Thus there is a need for decolonizing the education system. The course of change I would like to be involved in decolonizing the education system is the reformation of the education system so that it can integrate the indigenous people culture and their language.

A letter to the Indigenous People

To the Indigenous people,

Dear Fellow Citizens,

I am writing this letter to profoundly apologize on behalf of the Canadians to the first nations, Metis as well as Inuit people. These indigenous communities have gone through a lot of mistreatment, social as well as economic challenges, and we are deeply sorry for that.

Most of the indigenous community’s members have suffered much, especially in the period of residential schools (Longboat, 2015). It was a shameful period in our history, and we deeply regret what happened during this era. During this era of residential school, many families as well communities were torn apart (McQuaid, 2017). The effect of these has continued to be felt in many generations. The impact has been felt by the nation as well as individually. The people who continue to feel this pain are primarily the survivors of these indigenous communities as well as their children (Wilk, 2017).The parents of the children who were in these residential schools have been in pain for years because of what happened to their children, some of them claim that they were never told the reason their children died and how they died. Besides that, they were never even told the place where the children were buried. It is very devastating since they were never given a chance to say goodbye to their children or also pay tribute (Truth, & Reconciliation Commission of Canada., 2015). The pain of alienation of the children from their parents is still fresh to them. In some homes, the children were even stolen, which psychologically affected the parents. It is, therefore, the moment for us to finally say sorry and begin building a shared future that has its basis on mutual respect, equality as well as truth.

In the past years, the Canadian government has been treating the indigenous people (Metis as well as Inuit communities) in different ways from the others. They have been treated as not equal humans for many years in various sectors, such as in the education sector. They have been killing the Indian in the lives of these people as they have been using an education system that does not take in their culture (Niezen, 2016). It is profoundly wrong, and as Kathleen puts it, “we should help a generation of kids do better.” (TVO, 2012) One of the ways of doing it is decolonizing the education system.

The indigenous community for many years; just as Wynne termed them, “generations of abuse” (TVO, 2012) have suffered economically as well as socially. Things have to change now, and they need to be treated equally. Socially the communities have been denied the freedom of choosing how to live their lives. The children of Metis and Inuit’s have been for years be deprived the love as well as nurturing from their families (Battiste, 2004). The children have been denied the pride as well as happiness that one gets from knowing and learning their culture, language as well as traditions. Besides that, they have gone through various mistreatment, inequalities in medical care as well as sexual abuse. All these have had devastating effects on the lives of these children (Freeman, 2018).

Canada policies are to blame for all these. Because of the systems, all those who survived challenges have been ashamed of their cultural identity. They don’t want to be associated with these communities who are viewed as not fellow human beings. For these dreadful actions, we are deeply sorry.

We are deeply sorry for the destruction of community ties as well as family ties and for the psychological wounds that were inflicted on the individuals because of the unfair policies. We are also sorry for offering substandard education to the children from these communities, which has led to the heightening of poverty levels in these communities. “Education should assist the students in developing personal identities as well as achieve economic success “(Schissel, 2003). We are deeply sorry because the education did not meet what this scholar claimed that it should achieve. The policy, especially on residential schools, continues to be felt even among the people who did not personally experience the horrors of this policy. The parliament consciously came up with these laws; hence, there is no equivocation for these. Besides enacting them, they kept them going for several years. That’s why I wrote this letter to apologize to the members of this community because what they did consciously was incredibly wrong. The process of reconciliation is vital for the success of this nation. Hence we should forgive each other be reunited and find out ways to deal with inequalities as unity is strength.

We should also unite together and commit not to allow such unfairness to happen again. In doing these, it is crucial to recognize the traditions, culture as well as the rights of these indigenous communities. One step of showing that we have accepted their rights and culture is signing the UN declaration on indigenous people rights and following it. The other thing we should do, which is part of reconciliation is addressing the issue of inequality, especially in the education sector. Even at now, most of the children from these indigenous communities do not get a quality education; some lack good shelter as well as quality care. One of the ways of solving this is by decolonizing the education system to integrate their culture. We should make inclusion, equity to be the ground for all learning, and assent diversity. In doing this, we should take up various steps of decolonizing the education system. They include using active learning whereby learners from indigenous communities apply the everyday context as well reconstructing curriculum to incorporate their culture. “For the success of indigenous students, there should be the inclusion of indigenous content in schooling curriculum.” (Ciara, 2015). Another way is using indigenous languages at certain stages of the learning process, such as the lower classes (Battiste, 2002).

There is a need to do these to reverse the embarrassing statistics on the plight of the indigenous communities, which shows that there are high rates of poverty, poor education as well as lack of good shelters. We can do a lot and change this if we unite together as a nation and treat the Metis as well as Inuit as fellow human beings. “We should also support as well as empower indigenous people to independently deliver services” (Government of Canada, 2019). We promise to build a nation that has its basis in fairness as well as respect. We should all fight racism and be united. As (Battiste, Decolonizing education: Nourishing the learning spirit, 2017) says, “race is created in the social attitudes and beliefs of the society……. it does not reside in the genes” we should fight and develop positive attitudes to live peacefully and for the success of the nation. We are not born with racism; we develop it, and we can decide not to, and besides that, we are all equal.

 

References

Battiste, M. ( 2004). Animating sites of postcolonial education: Indigenous knowledge and the humanities. Plenary Address.

Battiste, M. (2002). Indigenous knowledge and pedagogy in First Nations education: A literature review with recommendations . Ottawa: National Working Group on Education.

Battiste, M. (2017). Decolonizing education: Nourishing the learning spirit. UBC press.

Canada, G. o. (2019, June 17). Retrieved from Indigenous Services Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/indigenous-services-canada.html

Ciara, C. (2015, Dec 6). Retrieved from Indigenous Education in Canada.

Freeman, B. M. (2018). The IImpact of Intergenerational Trauma to Health: Policies, Relocation, Reserves, and Residential Schools. Under-Served: Health Determinants of Indigenous, Inner-City, and Migrant Populations in Canada, 45.

Longboat, C. (2015). Retrievead from Power Point presentation: Seven Stages and Four Hills of Life.

McQuaid, R. J. (2017). Suicide ideation and attempts among First Nations peoples living on-reserve in Canada: The intergenerational and cumulative effects of Indian residential schools. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 62(6), 422-430.

Niezen, R. (2016). Templates and exclusions: victim centrism in Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian residential schools. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 22(4), 920-938.

Schissel, B. W. (2003). The legacy of school for Aboriginal people: Education, oppression, and emancipation. Canadian Ethnic Studies, 34(2), 129.

Truth, &. R. (2015). Canada’s Residential Schools-Missing Children and Unmarked Burials: The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (Vol. 4). McGill-Queen’s Press-MQUP.

TVO. (2012, October 17). Ontario Kathleen Wynne Aboriginal education in Ontario: An achievement gap. Retrieved from The agenda with Steve Paikin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9I-0ByevBw

Wilk, P. M. (2017). Residential schools and the effects on Indigenous health and well-being in Canada—a scoping review. Public health reviews, 38(1), 8.