Along my journey of figuring out my role in #reconciliation I find myself asking questions like: when can settlers say they have done their own work? How do we know? At what point can we step into the work of education for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and say I may not know everything but I feel like I am not going to create more harm? This type of inner dialogue seems to be the experience of different settler educators or would-be allies I meet. At times this dialogue appears to be based on: fear, discomfort, and (possibly) resistance. Moreover, from an educator standpoint, this dialogue plays out in learning how to move away from tokenism (in terms of a one-off mention of an Indigenous topic or guest speaker due to a beauracratic mandatory checklist) and enter into a new relationship with Indigenous people. The Indigenization of higher education is part of reconciliation and a chance for a new relationship. However, it requires that settler educators, researchers, staff, and students of educational institutions “understand what #Indigenization really means…[without being] bound by #settlerexpectations of what it should mean” (Pidgeon, 2016, p.79).
I have been incredibly lucky enough to both attend a presentation by, and have conversations with, #RachelYordy. Both her #TwoRowReconciliationFramework and the #ReturntoSpiritProgram help explain what the space for settlers is in reconciliation. Moreover, I find that often reconciliation appears to be thrown around so much that it becomes an empty term and/or the word appears to be so confusing or daunting that it may cause settlers to turn away. There is a “revolving-door” of non-Indigenous peoples looking to work in #solidarity or #allyship with Indigenous peoples (Land, 2015, p.2). Becoming something other than colonial takes time; as much or more time than it took to colonise Canada. Moreover, settler colonialism is collective and thus decolonisation must also be a collective effort (Lowman & Barker, 2015, p.109). Colonialism is not just maintained by the government, the justice system, corporations, and the education system, it is held up by Canadians (Lowman & Barker, 2015, p. 39). Yordy’s framework helps me see hope in a reconciliation that is real and tends to be a good visual image to show students and educators as they try to understand where their ideas or work might fit into reconciliation.
Reconciliation is an “aspirational term contingent on the #decolonization and #healing” of #Indigenoussettlerrelationships through the creation of space for a “new relationship based on truth, justice, and mutual respect” (Yordy, 2018, p. 4). Reconciliation requires a “relationship between actors, a process of transforming relations by acknowledging the injustices of the past and repairing harm, and encounters (involving both physical places and social spaces) that envision and build trust in an #interdependentfuture” (Yordy, 2018, p.4). Moreover, reconciliation requires not just an awareness of the past and an acknowledgment of the harm inflicted, but “atonement for the causes and action to change behavior” (Furo, 2018, p.2). In education this can take the form of #transformativelearningforreconciliation (TL4R), which is learning that seeks to "dramatically and permanently alter individual and collective settler consciousness in ways that shift our understanding of ourselves and our self-locations as well as relationships with Indigenous peoples and the natural world. This begins with an understanding…of colonialism…and compels visions of and work towards…a decolonizing world "(Yordy, 2018, p. 8).
I sincerely believe TL4R will play a key role in the normalization of reconciliation into the fabric of education and curricula. "The #resurgenceofIndigenous peoples and the #decolonizationofsettlers need to occur in tandem…and TL4R [works] to bridge the gap between Indigenous peoples and settlers on an individual level. It is through settler decolonization… that we can be in a good way with Indigenous peoples (Yordy, 2018, p.83).
Furo, A. (2018). Decolonizing the Classroom Curriculum: Indigenous Knowledges,
Colonizing Logistics, and Ethical Spaces. (Unpublished Doctorate Dissertation)
University of Ottawa, Ontario, BC.
Land, C. (2015). Decolonizing Solidarity: Dilemmas and Directions for Supporters of
Indigenous Struggles. Zed Books: London, UK.
Lowman, E., & Barker, A. (2015). Settler Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada.
Fernwood Publishing: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Pidgeon, M. (2016). More Than a Checklist: Meaningful Indigenous Inclusion in Higher
Education. Social Inclusion, 4(1), 77-91. doi 10.17645/si.v4i1.436
Yordy, R. (2018). Transformative Learning for Reconciliation: Settler Decolonization and
the Returning to Spirit Program. Final Research Report. Retrieved from: