To decolonize, one must first have an understanding of what it is to colonize in the first place.
What is Colonization?
"Colonization is the action or process of settling among and establishing control over the indigenous people of an area,
the action of appropriating a place or domain for one's own use." - Google Dictionary
Many people in Canada believe that colonization is something of the past. The word brings to mind ships filled with spices, explorers looking for a "New World," and direct rule of colonies under a royal house like that of the British Empire. However, to most Indigenous people within Canada, colonialism is not a legacy from long ago, but rather a lived reality that continues on today, carrying with it the traumas of the past, yet also perpetuating new ones in the present.
What is Decolonization?
"Decolonization is a future-oriented project that requires imagining, building, and fighting for forms of nationhood and self-determination not premised on the relations of exploitation, dispossession, elimination, and extraction that define liberal nationalisms and capitalist, imperial, and colonial formations." - Unsettling America
For teachers, it is of utmost importance to be committed to decolonization if we are to effectively serve our Indigenous students and communities. However, it is not solely beneficial for Indigenous people, but also to non-Indigenous students and communities as well. By learning about the true history of Canada, beyond the narrative that has served to center and glorify the settler-colonial state, all of our students will be better prepared to work together to heal these historical traumas, and improve the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the greater population of Canada.
That sounds impossible. Why bother?
"Decolonization is a goal but it is not an endpoint. The struggle for decolonization is a journey that is never finished and that, on this journey, uncertainty is not to be feared" - Intercontinental Cry
When focusing on the idea of reaching a complete decolonial state - one where all the wrongs of colonization have completely been undone and made right- it can seem impossible. However, do not be discouraged! The act of working toward that utopic ideal is a worthwhile endeavor. The true goals of decolonization are to
center and uplift Indigenous voices
challenge the oppression of Indigenous peoples
advocate for Indigenous rights, sovereignty and land
advocate for Indigenous children's access to education, healthcare, and support
promote and support Indigenous ways of knowing
protect the land and water
combat stereotypes, and promote intercultural understanding through education
"We’re all implicated in and through colonialism and how we decolonize is connected to how exactly we are implicated." - Intercontinental Cry