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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Memories of Aboriginal/Indian education : decolonizing policy and practice Daniels, Lyn Denise


In this thesis, memories and forgetting in Aboriginal youths’ recounting of experiences in contemporary Aboriginal education programs were traced back to the Indian residential school system and colonial policy. By focusing on Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements—policies intended to address the poor educational outcomes of Aboriginal students, within their broader social, political and historical context, the supposed “problem” of educating Aboriginal students is viewed from a decolonizing perspective. I argue that the effects of the Indian residential school system are productive across generations and continue into the present. Practicing a “critical pedagogy of decolonization” (L. T. Smith, 1999, p. 34) means listening to Aboriginal students’ memories of Aboriginal/Indian education policies in order to decolonize education, history and research. This study is aimed at informing/influencing/shaping current policy and practices and at improving the quality and outcome of Aboriginal students’ education. The complexity of this research is reflected in the metaphorical use of the term montage, a film technique, to represent the decolonizing epistemological and methodological frames that focus on narrative analysis, textual analysis, photograph analysis, and policy analysis. Listening to Indigenous students’ memories and forgetting of public schooling practices, and analyzing visual and textual representations of Aboriginal students, Aboriginal education and history, in past and present policy were framed and captured by decolonizing methodologies. Further, fiction was used to highlight haunted memories of Indian residential schooling and to trace colonial policies and practices back to a violent and traumatic past. By listening to counter memories of educational policy across generations of Indigenous actors, the relevance of these memories for understanding the effects of Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement policy today as they relate to historical, present and future manifestations of self-determination, re-birth and a decolonizing renaissance among Indigenous peoples in Canada is highlighted as a decolonizing strategy. This thesis represents an attempt at practicing a critical pedagogy of decolonization by linking notions of race and iconic myths of frontier history to perceptions of Indigenous peoples, cultures and histories that are disciplined by a colonial archive of photographs, policies, curricula, and texts.

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