Indigenization and decolonization of teaching and learning requires thoughtful reflection on current practice and the impact on Indigenous learners.

Engaging in Indigenization and decolonization of instruction, assessment, and curriculum provides opportunity for transformational change. This change is not without challenges, the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning (GMCTL) educators are prepared to accept these challenges.

Where to start

A foundational understanding of the terms Indigenization and decolonization will support educators on this journey.

The ohpahotân | oohpaahotaan let’s fly up together, Indigenous Strategy for the University of Saskatchewan provides definitions created in collaboration with Indigenous Knowledge Holders and Elders.

Indigenization - challenges us to amplify the forces of decolonization. Indigenization strengthens the fabric of the University. It involves the respectful, meaningful, ethical weaving of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit knowledge, lived experiences, worldviews, and stories into teaching, learning, and research. Indigenization is a gift that benefits every member of our community. 

Decolonization - practices contest divisive and demeaning actions, policies, programming, and frameworks. Indigenization is the healing, balancing force; it calls us to action, inspires opportunities for mutual cultural understanding, and helps us to find comfort in the discomfort decolonization can entail. 

Why should I Indigenize teaching & learning?

Indigenization is an invitation to honour perspectives and contributions of Indigenous people who have occupied these lands since time immemorial. Indigenization opens space for the acceptance and affirmation of Indigenous knowledge. Including Indigenous knowledge in curriculum, not only acknowledges the contributions of Indigenous people, but allows Indigenous students to see themselves in spaces originally designed to exclude them.

Indigenization of teaching and learning:

 Promotes Equity and Inclusion: incorporating Indigenous knowledge, perspectives, and ways of knowing into teaching practice enhances learning environments for Indigenous learners. 

 Enhances Learning Experiences: Indigenization of instruction and curriculum can support all students with the opportunity to gain experience and unlearn the dual history of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. This can grow learners’ horizons and deepen their understanding of this land. 

 Supports Reconciliation and Decolonization: Indigenization is a crucial step in the process of reconciliation and decolonization. It acknowledges past injustices, challenges colonial narratives, and allows Indigenous communities to regain control over their own stories and knowledge systems. 

Shares a Holistic Approach to Education: Various Indigenous knowledge systems emphasize holistic learning that integrates spirituality, culture, community, and the environment. Maintaining a balanced approach to learning and incorporating these elements into the curriculum can lead to a more well-rounded education. 

The list above is an example of the reasons for Indigenization and decolonization of teaching and learning. Additional support for these initiatives is available through programming at the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning

Indigenous Education Initiatives

The Indigenous Education Initiatives team along with other staff of GMCTL provide strategic and constructive support to academic leaders, faculty, and staff who are looking to develop or enhance their Indigenization initiatives.

Consultations and programs are uniquely tailored to the specific needs of faculty, instructors, or academic units. This allows us to consider time restraints, levels of understanding and ability, and learning or program outcomes in the support we offer. 

Indigenization and instruction

Rising to the challenge of Indigenization of instruction is emotional and thought provoking. The continuum of emotions can range from excitement to fear. The Indigenous Education Initiatives team offers guidance on how to manage these emotions and move forward.

Suggested activities on how to support Indigenization of instruction:

Incorporate Indigenous content
Integrate Indigenous knowledge, history, and perspectives into existing courses across various disciplines. This could involve including readings, case studies, and guest lectures that highlight Indigenous contributions to the field. For instance, in a history class, include perspectives on historical events from Indigenous communities.
Community engagement and collaboration
Invest the time in developing authentic relations with local Knowledge Holders and Elders. Invite Elders, Knowledge Holders, and community members to be part of the educational process. This collaborative approach ensures that the curriculum is culturally relevant and acknowledges the diverse perspectives within Indigenous communities.
Culturally responsive pedagogy
Implement teaching methods that align with Indigenous pedagogy and cultural values. This may include incorporating storytelling, experiential learning, and traditional teaching methods into the instructional approach. Creating a supportive and culturally safe learning environment is crucial for the academic success of Indigenous students.
Honour and uplift Indigenous knowledge
Invest in learning more about the Indigenous cultures of the land. This will provide opportunity for learning from and with Indigenous people. Understanding the experiences of the people of the land will help recognize the impact of colonization.

Reciprocity and Relationship

Reciprocity of Relationship image

Understanding the reality experienced by First Nation, Inuit, and Métis learners, community, and staff is essential for knowing, valuing, and believing in learners. An examination of the historical, cultural, ecological, and moral imperatives for this work identifies reasons for the Reciprocity of Relationship model. It is of vital importance that education addresses the reality faced by Métis, First Nation, and Inuit peoples.

Historically, the education system focused on assimilation and did not adequately represent Métis, First Nation, and Inuit learners. Education's responsibility to work in partnership with First Nation, Inuit, and Métis peoples will foster understanding of culture, language, and tradition to support improved outcomes for all learners.

 The Personal Disposition Domain describes the critical, fundamental understanding of an educator mindset needed for the respectful approach to improving the educator-learner relationship, engagement and, in the end, achievement. Canada. Providing all students with opportunities to gain experience about the historical and contemporary relationships between Canada, Métis, Inuit, and First Nations is an increasingly key component of citizenship education which helps reduce conflict, foster trust, and improve relationships.

 A humble approach to education will involve the educator seeking ways to honour learner’s prior knowledge, protecting space for learner voice, and value participants through flattened hierarchies. The humbled educator accepts personal faults and is aware of personal biases that impact instruction, assessment, and expectations. 

 A reflective approach to education will involve the educator recognizing unconscious bias and social positioning. The reflective educator consciously seeks to identify how lived experiences have influenced their worldview and recognize this may cause unnecessary difficulty for learners and caregivers. 

 A partnership approach to education requires respecting multiple worldviews that will foster understanding of the value of shared responsibility. A relational educator takes a humble approach to engaging in partnership, recognizing formal and informal power structures favour the dominant culture. 

 An action-oriented approach to education will involve taking concrete steps to obtain equitable outcomes for all learners with a focus on the success of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit learners. The initiative-taking educator takes responsibility to influence change for and with people in all parts of their lives including the classroom. 


Incorporating Indigenous worldview resources in higher education is crucial for creating a more inclusive, respectful, and enriching learning environment. Using Indigenous worldview resources is not just about meeting diversity requirements; it is about creating a more informed, respectful, and interconnected society. By incorporating these resources, educators contribute to a holistic and inclusive educational experience that prepares students for a diverse and interconnected world.

The links provided below are a starting point for exploring the diversity of Métis, First Nation, and Inuit knowledge.

Connect to us

For more information on Indigenous Education Initiatives and the support our team can provide with teaching and learning, please reach out to us.