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Inspire: Indigenous Pedagogy (Sub-Module 2 of 3 of Inquire Module)

"Indigenous pedagogy is a teaching method that connects aboriginal stories as a guiding path toward knowledge, relying on the relationships between people and nature with broad, holistic interconnectedness. The role of Indigenous pedagogy is to promote learning through four distinct areas: personal and holistic, experiential, place-based learning, and intergenerational" (Theories of Collective and Individual Learning).

Resources: Indigenous Pedagogy

Two-Eyed Seeing

Mi’kmaw Elder Albert Marshall describes Two-Eyed Seeing as the ability “to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous ways of knowing, and to see from the other eye with the strengths of Western ways of knowing, and to use both of these eyes together” (as cited in Peltier). Two-Eyed Seeing allows us to "acknowledge the entirety of Indigenous knowledge systems alongside Western knowledges and worldviews, so that we can continuously ‘weave back and forth’ between knowledges to create meaningful and respectful research and community-based programs that recognize the complexity of being a young person today" (Bartlett, as cited in Bujold et al.).

Sources: An Application of Two-Eyed Seeing: Indigenous Research Methods With Participatory Action Research (Peltier) | Etuaptmumk Two-Eyed Seeing: Bringing Together Land-based Learning and Online Technology to Teach Indigenous Youth About Food (Bartlett, as cited in Bujold et al.)

Video: Etuaptmumk: Two-Eyed Seeing | Rebecca Thomas | TEDxNSCCWaterfront

Etuaptmumk - Two-Eyed Seeing is explained by saying it refers to learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing, and from the other eye with the strengths of Western knowledges and ways of knowing ... and learning to use both these eyes together, for the benefit of all.

Land Based Learning

"Indigenous land-based education is its own paradigm based on Indigenous worldviews and beliefs and the passing on of knowledge to one another and to the next generation. It is also a form of understanding our place within, and our responsibility to, the wider universe. It gives context to the knowledges that arise from the land as well as from a specific nation. It encompasses the preservation of culture, language and philosophy, and addresses the ramifications of colonization and 'epistemicide'—the severing of Indigenous knowledge systems as a consequence of policies designed to limit or cut off access to food, sacred places, culture and language” (Wilson as cited in UNESCO).

Sources: Land as teacher: Understanding Indigenous land-based education (UNESCO)

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Video: Land Based Indigenous Studies in the WRDSB

Students in the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) aren’t confining their learning to the classroom, thanks to Land Based Indigenous Studies.


"We all have stories within us. Sometimes we hold them gingerly, sometimes desperately, sometimes as gently as an infant. It is only by sharing stories, by being strong enough to take a risk - both with telling and in the asking - that we make it possible to know, recognize and understand each other." - Richard Wagamese from Richard Wagamese Selected: What Comes from Spirit.

The oral traditions of the First Nations, Inuit, and Metis cultures have long been used to transmit information from one generation to the next. Teaching about cultural ideas, values, customs, rituals, history, practices, relationships, and ways of life traditionally involves telling stories. Traditionally, stories are told by community members who have attained the status of Storyteller as well as Elders, Knowledge Keepers, or historians in some cultures. Storytelling is a foundation for experiential learning, relationship building, and holistic learning (Empowering the Spirit).

Storytelling fosters a classroom atmosphere that responds to each student's needs while establishing links between previously learned material and new information. In order to make learning relevant and transformative, teachers use storytelling in all of its many different forms to connect concepts to analogies or parallels that students can understand (First Nations Pedagogy Online).

Sources: Sharing Through Story (Empowering the Spirit) | Storytelling (First Nations Pedagogy Online)

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Video: Learning from Story

This video is part of the course "Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education". This course explores strategies, teaching exemplars, and resources that support the teaching and learning of Indigenous ways of knowing.

Experiential Learning

According to Canadian Council on Learning, "The traditional Aboriginal classroom consisted of the community and the natural environment. Each adult was responsible for ensuring that each child learned the specific skills, attitudes and knowledge they needed to function in everyday life. Experiential learning is seen as connected to lived experience, as in learning by doing, and is structured formally through regular community interactions such as sharing circles, ceremonies, meditation, or story telling, and daily activities. Although experiential learning is most often associated with activities that occur outside the formal classroom, it is a purposeful and essential mode of learning for First Nations, Métis and Inuit."

Intergenerational Learning

"In Indigenous communities, the most respected educators have always been Elders. In pre-contact societies, Elders had clear roles to play in passing on wisdom and knowledge to youth, and that relationship is still honoured and practiced today. Some Elders are the knowledge holders of 60 different Indigenous languages in Canada, and language is a key component of Indigenous culture that should be integrated in teaching practices if we are to move toward Indigenization of curriculum. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students can learn a lot from Elders, and curriculum developers can seek opportunities to engage with Elders as experts in Indigenous pedagogies. Section 3 of this resource provides more information about how to respectfully engage with Elders" (Pulling Together: A Guide for Curriculum Developers).