Educational series seeks to bring decolonization to the classroom

Queen’s University Centre for Teaching and Learning to continue hosting Indigenous education workshops

Educational developer Lindsay Brant.
Supplied by Lindsay Brant

In an effort to increase the presence of Indigenous ways of knowing in classrooms, the Queen’s University Centre for Teaching and Learning will continue to host a pedagogical series for educators.

As previously reported by The Journal in 2019, although the University’s senior administrative staff’s approach towards Indigenous issues has improved, Queen’s faculty still struggled to navigate the incorporation of Indigenous topics. The educational series, titled “Introduction to Indigenous Ways of Knowing,” has been designed for educators with limited or no knowledge of Indigenous approaches to learning.

“[The first] workshop idea was an introduction to Indigenous pedagogies, and what that means, what Indigenous worldviews are and ways of knowing, and how that can apply in a classroom environment,” Lindsay Brant, the series’ educational developer, said in an interview with The Journal.

Brant, originally from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, said that since arriving at Queen’s last summer, she has worked to redevelop the workshop curriculum to be more accessible for members of the Queen’s community who have limited experience with Indigenous pedagogy.

“The approach that I took was just to think about what someone with limited or a very foundational level of knowledge about Indigenous issues and curricula needs to know,” she said.

Made available through the Queen’s University Centre for Teaching and Learning, there are currently three remaining workshops in the winter semester series, including “Selecting Indigenous Resources for the Classroom” and “Co-Existence and Co-Resistance—Becoming an Ally for Indigenous Peoples.”

“That [last] workshop really focuses on what decolonization means, what responsibilities different people can take on in that process, and how our identity and power shapes us and our understanding of our place in relation to Indigenous peoples and decolonization,” Brant said.

She added that the final workshop, which focuses on becoming an ally, will give participants a chance to challenge their identity and belief systems.

“When we can come together and talk about those things in a very safe and supportive environment, I think it’s helpful,” Brant said. “Then maybe [we can] talk about some of the issues that have come up at Queen’s and what are ways we can be strong allies for Indigenous peoples and get through those things together.”

The series has seen participation from Queen’s staff, graduate students, and faculty, as well as Kingston community members when space has been available. According to Brant, there has been an emphasis in the workshops on collaboration and connection among colleagues.

“I find the most enriching discussions are when there [are] multiple disciplines in the room, and they can speak to their experiences in the classroom, what they’ve done that’s worked or what they’d like to try,” Brant said.

Brant said that although the series is geared more towards an audience that works in education, undergraduate students have also participated in the workshops, and are welcome to come again in the future.

“I think the series is so important just because it’s one of the institutional imperatives that we look at decolonization and Indigenization and what that means for Queen’s as a whole,” Brant said. “This workshop allows people to get a taste of those things.”

According to Brant, the series addresses Queen’s Geography Professor Anne Godlewska’s 2019 report, “What Queen’s Students Know About Indigenous Realities in Canada.” In the report, Godlewska found students were substantially unaware of the power of Indigenous ways of being and the potential to learn from Indigenous knowledge.

“Our goal is to increase awareness [and] increase knowledge and I think this workshop series is one of the ways we can be able to do that,” Brant said.

Registration for these workshops is available through the Centre for Teaching and Learning website.

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