Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Barriers and Facilitators to Indigenous Knowledge Incorporation in Policy Making
The inclusion and application of Indigenous Knowledge (IK) has become a central and often demanded element of policy making involving Indigenous peoples. However, there are very few examples that exist in the literature and elsewhere that show how IK can be effectively integrated into decisions, policies, and programs. In response to these challenges, this research explored what processes are used to incorporate IK into policy and their effectiveness through the development of a framework that sought to identify critical factors related to IK inclusion. The framework was then applied to evaluate IK incorporation opportunities in the Nunatsiavut case, focusing on the development of the Nunatsiavut Government's Environmental Protection Act. The case study analysis was used to test and provide adaptations to the initial framework. This research identifies the importance of governance structures and processes, community participation and engagement approaches, and IK research and support programming in enhancing opportunities for IK to be integrated and reflected in policy outcomes. The Nunatsiavut case largely supported, but in some cases challenged critical factors of IK incorporation identified in the framework. The findings of this study are valuable for policy and decision makers (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) regarding approaches and programs that can assist and support IK inclusion into policy processes and decisions. Author Keywords: environmental assessment, Indigenous Knowledge, Inuit Knowledge, Nunatsiavut, policy, self-government
Exploring Indigenous Contributions to (Indigenization of) the City of Saskatoon's 2012-2022 Strategic Plan
The self-determining autonomy of urban Aboriginal communities in Canada's Prairie Provinces can be strengthened at the local scale through decolonized municipal governance frameworks. The City of Saskatoon's Strategic Plan 2012-2022 is highlighted to explore two interrelated questions: do Saskatoon's Aboriginal engagement strategies represent a co-produced or indigenized mainstream planning and policy-making process? Does the potential indigenization of municipal planning and policy-making represent a promising pathway to facilitate local decolonization through collaborative municipal-Aboriginal governance in Saskatoon? Results from qualitative interviews reveal that the City of Saskatoon's distinctive Aboriginal engagement strategies were not entirely meaningful for participants, though the planning process included elements that, if expanded upon, could deepen co-production. Indigenization through co-production necessitates a thorough integration of Aboriginal community input at every stage of a planning and policy-making process, shared control and decision-making mechanisms between municipal governments and Aboriginal communities, and ancillary considerations for increased Aboriginal representation and participation in the administrative and political functions of City Hall. Author Keywords: aboriginal governance, decolonization, indigenization, policy co-production, self-determination, strategic municipal planning
Energy Resilience in Northern Communities
This project examines the factors for success of alternative energy initiatives in remote northern Indigenous communities, and the link between northern community energy and resilience. The case study, in the Gwich’in village of Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, focuses upon a biomass boiler district heating project that provides renewable heat fuelled by local wood chips, and the willow harvesting initiative that supports it. Data was collected by interviews and participant observation in Fort McPherson and Yellowknife, and by analysis of resilience, community energy, and biomass literature. Success factors identified include the importance of aligning energy systems with local cultural identity, traditional values and connection to landscape, values often under-represented in financially-driven energy decisions. Autonomy and self-reliance are shown to be critical factors in northern community energy decisions, related to well-being, pride in place and enhanced resilience. Community resilience is revealed as a key component of northern community energy success. Author Keywords: Energy, Indigenous, Northern, Renewable, Resilience, Sustainable
Rights, Resources, and Resistance
The development of pan-Indigenous political organizations in northeastern Alberta in the context of oil and gas development during the 1970s created disparate effects on Indigenous communities in the region. Resistance to assimilation policies led the Indian Association of Alberta to transform itself into a unified voice that represented Aboriginal and treaty rights in the late 1960s; however, the organization lost legitimacy following the divergence of goals between influential Indigenous leaders, Harold Cardinal and Joseph Dion. Tripartite agreements began to unfold between the federal and provincial governments, the oil and gas industry, and individual local leadership; environmental degradation spread throughout the landscape. Some communities benefitted financially whereas other communities, like Lubicon Lake Nation, received little compensation and felt the full force of industrial contamination of their traditional territories. Without the support of pan-Indigenous political organizations, Lubicon Lake developed an individual response that was successful in gaining international attention to their conditions. Author Keywords: 1970s, Indigenous politics, Lubicon Lake Nation, northern Alberta, political economy, tar sands
Colonialism, Capitalism, and the Rise of State Schooling in British Columbia, 1849-1900
This dissertation examines the historical relationship between settler colonialism, capitalism, and the rise of state schooling in what is now known as British Columbia between 1849 and 1900. It aims to “unsettle” conventional views of Canadian schooling history by bringing accounts of Indigenous and non-Indigenous education into one analytical frame, and it shows how the state used different forms of schooling for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children—company, common, public, mission, day, boarding, and industrial schools—to assist colonial-capitalist social formation in the Pacific Northwest. In combining interdisciplinary insights from Indigenous studies, historical materialism, political economy, and critical pedagogy, the dissertation highlights the ways in which state-supported schooling facilitated capitalist accumulation by colonial dispossession. The central argument of the dissertation is that between 1849 and 1900, colonial, provincial, and federal governments strategically took on greater responsibility for schooling as a way of legitimizing the state and supporting the emergence of a capitalist settler society. Author Keywords: Capitalism, Education, Indian Residential Schools, Indigenous Peoples, Settler Colonialism, Violence
Sacred Space, Ancestors, and Authority
The Middle Formative Period (1000 – 400 B.C.) has increasing become recognized as a critical locus in the development of Lowland Maya socio-political complexity. This period witnessed the founding of numerous ceremonial centers, substantial material cultural innovation, and the advent of mortuary practices indicating developing social differentiation. Recent excavations at the site of Ka’Kabish in Northern Belize have uncovered evidence significantly strengthening this view. Excavations underlying Plaza D-South at Ka’Kabish have revealed a series of bedrock-hewn pits containing offering caches of thousands of shell beads, forty-seven greenstone objects, and extensive ceramic evidence indicating communal ritual and feasting, which is argued by the author to represent a cosmographic diorama of the cave-riddled Underworld. Significantly, this elaborate cosmographic offering event appears to center on the secondary, bundled bedrock-cist burial of an important personage and/or ancestor who is accompanied by a number of finely crafted jade ornaments representing motifs and forms that have previously been interpreted as symbols of authority, rulership, and divine kingship. Comparable contemporary evidence from Northern Belize and beyond has been interpreted through models foregrounding site-founding, place-making, ancestor veneration, and aggrandizer driven social differentiation. By integrating and contrasting these existing models with new evidence from Ka’Kabish, this thesis argues that the mortuary, caching, and architectural practices evidenced at Middle Formative Ka’Kabish represent a glimpse into the incipience of the ideological complex, the socio-cultural processes, and the material manifestations propagating the development of subsequent Maya socio-political complexity, specifically the institution of divine kingship or ch’uhul ahau. Author Keywords: ancestor veneration, ancient Maya, greenstone cache, Ka’Kabish, Belize, Middle Formative, socio-political complexity
“I will not use the word reconciliation” – Exploring Settler (Un)Certainty, Indigenous Refusal, and Decolonization through a Life History Project with Jean Koning
This thesis centres on a series of intergenerational life history interviews with and about Jean Koning, a 95-year-old white Settler woman who has engaged in different forms of Indigenous-Settler solidarity work for over fifty years—work that is highly regarded by many Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in southwestern and central Ontario. I bring Jean’s stories and perspectives, many of which stand in stark contrast to dominant discourses of “reconciliation,” into conversation with scholars who examine Indigenous refusal and Settler (un)certainty. Through this, I attempt to better understand how colonial knowledge structures and ways of thinking operate in practise, how these might be resisted, and how this resistance relates to land repatriation. I argue that a commitment to unsettling uncertainty and to meaningful listening may be required by Settlers in a stand against various colonial ways of thinking, such as cognitive imperialism. Author Keywords: Cognitive imperialism, Decolonization, Indigenous-Settler relations, Life history, Reconciliation, Settler uncertainty
Exploring Kiki-Inoomgugaewin
This case study contributes to scholarship surrounding the national conversation on Indigenous language sustainability in North America. Much of this scholarship provides insight on structuring language programs and policies for youth, leaving a tremendous research gap regarding sociolinguistic and cultural research with youth. Youth appear disinterested or otherwise set apart in current research from the development of policies and curriculum concerned with heritage languages. Upon closer inspection; however, youth are engaged and using innovative and different tools than previous generations. This exploration is a foundational case study which builds upon research highlighting the nature of Indigenous language loss in the south as a time sensitive phenomenon as the application of cognitive imperialism and colonial tactics within mainstream schools continue to conceal a large scale cultural and linguistic genocide in Canada. Although Indigenous language loss may seem of concern to only small groups of linguists and dialectic communities, it should in fact concern anyone who cares about reconciliation or closing the tremendous gap in accessing equitable education. The preservation of Indigenous languages and knowledge systems should also be of interest to those parties who seek to comprehensively understand the Natural World and whom have a vested interest in the survival of the planet and protection of the enviroment. Because of these realities, the viewpoints and experiences of all concerned parties are essential. It follows then, that the youth perspective is significant. To address this gap, participatory narrative inquiry was used as a theoretical framework to conduct a foundational case study in which detailed consideration was given to exploring the lived narratives of three Anishnaabeg participants to establish the value of Indigenous youth voice in alternative forms of sociolinguistic and culturally sustainable language learning in the 21st century, and, to strengthen the argument that more research is needed in the field of first-person youth studies. The results of this case study will be useful, specifically, to localized communities of Anishnaabe youth with and for whom much of the research was conducted, and, more generally to youth resistance work focused on media and technology in globalized and contemporary language and cultural ecologies. Research outcomes indicated potential directions for future research in different contexts and localities by presenting commonalities within the fields of social and political engagement and their connection to language and new media in youth populations. It is hoped that this initial material pinpointing a research gap in Indigenous youth language studies will be used to investigate future research in this field. Author Keywords: Anishnaabe, Decolonization, Language, Sociolinguistics, Technology, Youth Studies
Hoop Dance Project
This dissertation explores a 2017 elementary school Hoop Dance project that was organized by a white music teacher, and taught by an Indigenous artist in Peterborough, Ontario. It aims to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, numbers 10 and 63, which ask the federal government to sufficiently fund legislation that incorporates the following principles: “… developing culturally appropriate curricula” (p. 2), and “building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect” (p. 7). The dissertation asks the question: In what ways will a seven-week Indigenous Hoop Dance Unit, taught by an Indigenous performing artist and facilitated by a white school teacher, contribute to reconciliation in an elementary school classroom in Ontario? I am the teacher in this study and have worked at this elementary school for five years. Throughout the project, I acted as facilitator, participant, and researcher, while Indigenous dancer and instructor Beany John planned and delivered the Hoop Dance content. Theoretically, the dissertation is organized around the Anishinabek seven grandmother/grandfather teachings, as taught by Ojibwe/Odawa educator and author Pamela Toulouse (2011). I believe that these seven traditional teachings are a meaningful basis upon which to build the project, not only because they inform Indigenous knowledge in the arts, but also because frequent reflection and referral to the teachings help remind me to remain connected to the “higher” purpose of the research throughout the project, which is to further the reconciliation process in Canada, and more broadly, to benefit society. Regarding methodology, I use arts based research (Leavy, 2015) and a constructivist grounded theory analysis, which embraces the subjectivity and positionality of the researcher (Creswell, 2012). The overall conclusion of the dissertation is that although the Hoop Dance project did not significantly address issues of Indigenous sovereignty in education nor our shared inherited legacy of colonial harm, it was a constructive step in the reconciliation project, largely due to the contributions of Beany John, whose teaching gently unsettled conventional educational practice at our school. Author Keywords: Arts Education, Hoop Dance, Indigenous Education, Indigenous Peoples, Settler Colonialism, Truth and Reconciliation
An Application of Virgilio Enriquez's Indigenization Method on Filipino-Canadian Discourse
In Disturbing Invisibility (Coloma, McElhinny, Tungohan, Catungal, Davidson, 2012), the most comprehensive book on Filipino-Canadian studies to date, issues were identified in the afterword as to how Filipino-Canadian studies relates to indigenous identity. This thesis attempts to address this issue by applying Enriquez’s (1992) Indigenization Method onto Filipino-Canadian discourse. It attempts to do this by: exploring the colonial context and history in the Philippines and its effect on the formation of a Filipino indigenous identity; exploring Filipino indigenous thought as described by Enriquez (1992) in his seminal book From Colonial to Liberation Psychology; understanding Filipinos in Canada with the inclusion of literature from Filipino-American studies and the Filipino Indigenization movement; and how orienting Filipino-Canadian discourse with the indigenous concepts brought forward by Enriquez might look like, with emphasis on how Filipino-Canadian discourse could interact with Indigenous issues relating to Indigenous People in Canada today. It becomes clear that the Filipino Indigenization movement has reached grassroots Filipino organizations in Canada, and that uncritically ignoring their own Filipino indigenous roots would be denying themselves the unique cultural gifts that those roots provide. As being both Filipino and Canadian, Filipino-Canadians who seek to reclaim their indigenous roots would find that the indigenous concept of kapwa (“the self in the other”) would encourage an examination of issues pertaining to Indigenous People in Canada as commonalities exist in their experiences with colonization. Author Keywords: Canada, discourse, Filipino-Canadians, indigenization, indigenous, Philippines
“It's like getting a new car without the manual”
This study explored teacher infusion of Indigenous curriculum content through interviews with ten non-Indigenous teachers of social studies and history. The interviews centered on teacher perceptions of preparedness to implement Ontario’s recent TRC curriculum revisions, which include more about the contributions, histories, cultures, and perspectives of Indigenous peoples. A brief analysis of Ontario’s First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework is included, alongside critiques of the Eurocentrism at the heart of education systems. The interviews revealed that many of the teachers were committed to Indigenous education and learning more, but they felt unprepared and lacked resources to teach Indigenous curriculum content with confidence. This study highlighted the critical role of settler teachers in Indigenous education and the importance of teachers undertaking settler unsettling in order to be effective and appropriate in Indigenous curriculum delivery. Individual changes must occur alongside educational system decolonization with a particular focus on teacher preparation. Author Keywords: cognitive imperialism, Indigenous Education, Ontario, settler educator, settler unsettling, TRC curriculum
Canoeing through Resurgence
Anishinabai are jiimaan people. The traditional building of wiigwaas jiimaan is a part of a resurgence project that is restoring and maintaining cultural connection to our homelands, the water, and community members. An approach to cultural resurgence, such as the wiigwaas jiimaan, is an attempt to generate a better connection to our homeland, self- determination, and forms of healing within a cultural context. Through diverse research methodologies, this project will open new doors to cultural resurgence methods, Indigenous knowledge and the story telling of the wiigwaas jiimaan. Over the summer of 2018, I built a wiigwaas jiimaan in my home community of Temagami First Nation. It is from this experience that this research shaped. Through the approach of storytelling to my reflective notes, while incorporating an Indigenous knowledge and resurgence methodology. It is important that when you are reading this, that you keep an open mind, sit comfortably and enjoy the interweaving of story and research. The thesis creates a better understanding of resurgence practices, the history of the Teme- Augama Anishinabai, my story and experience with the wiigwaas jiimaan, and the rebuilding of my community through this cultural initiative. Moving forward I hope that this research continues and evolves to other communities, who look for healing and cultural reclaiming through the land. Miigwetch. Author Keywords: Culture, Healing, Land-Based, Resurgence, Temagami First Nation, Wiigwaas jiimaan

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