Agency and Identity: Indigenous-Led Holistic Education

Proceedings of The 3rd International Conference on New Trends in Social Sciences

Year: 2022



Agency and Identity: Indigenous-Led Holistic Education

Emily Bagshaw, Lorenzo Cherubini, & Jennifer Dockstader



Indigenous led education can foster Indigenous individual and community health and healing in the ongoing wake of settler colonial violence in Canada. This is the first of two presentations that discusses a larger study grounded in an Indigenous epistemic framework and investigates how Indigenous-centred and led education is necessary to work toward decolonization and reconciliation in Canada. Through a culturally appropriate interview grounded in Indigenous epistemologies, an Indigenous graduate student and mainstream scholar spoke with an Indigenous community member participating in culturally safe community programs at a Native Friendship Centre in Ontario, Canada. This presentation focuses on two core categories grounded in the data and identified as: 1. Identity and 2. Ancestral Knowledge. Importantly, this component of the more comprehensive study recognizes that many Indigenous identities evolve through links between the past and the present which Indigenous peoples reflect on and rework to move into a better future (Brogan, 1998; Eyerman, 2004; Short, 2011). As the participant themselves described, “I believe in blood memory because it shakes your heart and your whole being.” This presentation will elaborate on the fact that regardless of history and experiences with settler colonial violence in Canada, it is still very possible and important for Indigenous peoples to remember and give presence to their collective memories and the memories of their ancestors (Brogan, 1998). Among the significant outcomes of the more comprehensive study that will be discussed is that for Indigenous peoples, having the agency to create education focused on holistically addressing all parts of their identities is one avenue toward Indigenous futurity in Canada.

keywords: ancestral knowledge; community health; decolonization; reconciliation; settler colonialism.