De-colonizing Canadian Post-Secondary Education


In Canada, the recent Truth and Reconciliation Committee of Canada Report (2015) revealed the devastating impact of over a century of forced assimilation on Indigenous peoples. In the educational context, assimilation manifested itself in the residential school system, a system which existed from the late 19th century until 1996 and whose mandate was to “Kill the Indian in the child” (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada [TRCC], n.p.). Though the closure of the last residential school marks a significant shift in Indigenous educational policy, many scholars argue that the Canadian post-secondary education system continues the process of colonization by excluding culturally relevant content and maintaining Eurocentric teaching approaches. In this paper we will examine the ongoing process of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada by first outlining the impact of colonial practices on the current participation of Indigenous students in post secondary education as measured by enrollment and completion rates. In the second half of the paper, we will use a case-based approach to illustrate more inclusive post secondary educational models that can benefit both Indigenous and non Indigenous students. More specifically, we demonstrate decolonization efforts in two specific course initiatives in history and science education. We aim to illustrate how the inclusion of Indigenous pedagogy facilitates cross-cultural understandings. Despite the dark past, Canadian post-secondary institutions can become more inclusive without sacrificing academic rigour. Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (n.d.). About the commission. Retrieved from

Author Information
Robert Lawson, University of Manitoba, Canada
Kathy Snow, Cape Breton University, Canada

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2015
Stream: Education and post-colonialism

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