The conference proceedings of the University of Regina Conference on Public Engagement and the Politics of Evidence are now available at  First Nations scholar Dr. Marie Battiste gave a critical perspective of the Canadian initiatives in higher education  that aim to empower indigenous scholars within mainstream higher education through indigenization of education ( Indigenization of education includes provision of more equitable opportunities for indigenous peoples in higher education as well as representation and teaching of indigenous knowledge. However, according to Dr. Battiste the analysis and solutions are created out of a Eurocentric perspective without considering or including the experts among indigenous people in either analysis or response. Thus activities are based on assimilation while ignoring the contexts from which indigenous scholars originate – oppression, poverty, class hierarchy, white dominance, privilege and discrimination. Battiste suggests that any decolonization initiative needs to address issues of self-determination, indigenous knowledge reconstruction, damage done by past systems, discourses of deficits and benefits of assimilation among other topics.

One participant asked Marie to respond to the negative, deficiency narratives that arise with each initiative of indigenization of education. These negative discourses suggest that indigenization of higher education is a “form of damaging accommodation that is an affront to academic education”. Marie’s response focuses the need to move forward and engage everyone as complicit in the futures of indigenous people. Rather than viewing indigenization as a step backward, we must see the process as moving forward toward a better future for all.

This conversation is an interesting contrast to the last post on this site about the hiring of minority teachers in Boston. It appears that mere hiring of minority teachers during a crisis does not actually address issues of equity. On going conversation with leaders in minority communities to understand their perspective, the context within which they live and work and their own ideals and desired futures would contribute more to crafting initiatives that may truly contribute to social equity. Simple hierarchical decisions made by dominant leaders will not create change, nor does it acknowledge that everyone is complicit in the futures of both minority and majority students.