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Throughout this book, we will refer to the processes of decolonization, indigenization, and reconciliation. Indigenous scholars believe these processes to be distinct, but interrelated mechanisms (Alfred, 2009; Alfred & Corntassel, 2005) that we must understand and implement if we are to truly answer the call to action (TRC, 2015). Decolonization can be viewed as undoing colonial wrongs and dismantling colonial structures that do not serve the oppressed. To fully understand decolonization, we must define colonization: the gradual takeover of an Indigenous group’s territory and the assertion of control over that group. When the literature refers to ‘decolonizing’ a place or domain such as the Canadian educational system, it is suggesting the removal of a colonial system.

Decolonization can further be viewed as a component of indigenization, which is defined by Dr. Shauneen Pete (2015) who states “indigenizing means re-centering Indigenous epistemes, ontologies and methodologies” (p. 65). When we succeed in decolonization efforts, we recognize and value Indigenous practices. Decolonization requires Indigenous scholars, activists, and others to challenge settlers’ Eurocentric biases and privilege (Alfred, 2009; Pete, 2015); while reconciliation work focuses on settlers acknowledging and creating pathways for justice and change (TRC, 2015). Although Indigenous is a globally used term, for the purpose of this literature review, the term Indigenous is used to refer to the descendants of the original inhabitants of what we now call Canada. This includes the First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples (FNIM). As these three groups are distinct and can occupy different geographic locations, when referring to these groups, we will try to be as specific as possible. We also respect author choice in terminology – therefore, when quoting from or paraphrasing an author, we will use their chosen terminology.

The video below demonstrates why we use local language, and differences in terminology.


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