Indigenous Education in Canada: Representation, Rights and Democratic Colonization

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Terry WOTHERSPOON, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
In Canada as in other white settler societies, formal education has a dual significance for  indigenous populations. As a tool of colonization, schooling has contributed to the subordination of indigenous people and perspectives throughout much of the nation’s history. However, education is also valued as a key entry point to foster opportunity and success in contemporary societies. In recent years, numerous educational reforms and initiatives across the nation, in conjunction with other significant social developments, have fostered renewed hope that many of these educational aspirations can be realized but the outcomes of these reforms remain mixed. This paper examines developments and discourses related to indigenous people’s struggles to achieve objectives to have an education system framed in accordance with principles of cultural relevance and parental control. These are illustrated with reference to official policy documents and statements as well as public commentary on indigenous education issues represented in media websites. The analysis demonstrates how processes of “democratic colonialism,” representing a particular form of what Bourdieu calls symbolic violence, contribute to decolonization and advancement of indigenous people’s rights and status while at the same time posing barriers as indigenous people and their interests continue to be stigmatized and undermined in many important respects.