Understanding and Finding Our Way – Decolonizing Canadian Education

All Canadians are responsible for reconciliation. Teachers have a unique opportunity to contribute by advocating for change to help eliminate inequality and racism. Understanding and Finding Our Way – Decolonizing Canadian Education is a powerful film that exposes public education inequities in Canada and challenges viewers to decolonize education.

This film is a critique of the education system and all the other systems and institutions that contribute to the oppression of Indigenous people. It is one of the most important educational films I’ve worked on for many years. The history of abuse against Indigenous children and their families requires a BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY approach to bring to light the many and continuing injustice faced by Indigenous people.

As a filmmaker, media maker and storyteller, I believe we must produce critical work connecting the dots. I believe that this will allow us to see clearly how systems of oppressions work in solidarity (both directly and indirectly) to cause harm, perpetuate untruths for the sole purpose of maintaining white supremacy. We as a society must seek out and support Indigenous sovereignty and do whatever is necessary to pick up the call to action listed in the Truth and Reconciliation report wherever we are situated in society. We must decolonize all of the institutions in the entire country.

May the spirits of the missing and murdered Indigenous people of Turtle Island continue to soar.

The 32-minute film is divided into three parts.

Part one – kiyâskiwâcimowina (myth)

Explores the myths that “everyone is equal in Canada. Canada does not have a race problem. Education is the great equalizer. Education is neutral.”  

Part two – tâpewêwin (truth)

Exposes public education inequities and explores the need for system change through an anti-colonial lens.

Part three – ôte-nikâniyihtamawin (hope)

Inspires hope that, together, we can create public education systems that support the success of all students.

The film was produced by Dr. Verna St. Denis, an internationally renowned scholar in anti-racist education and Dr. Jennifer Simpson who brought a team of academics and filmmakers together to create work from an anti-oppressive lens that would disrupt racist colonial practices. I came on board as director, co-writer and co-producer of the project. The film took nine years to our initial bi-yearly meetings in 2012 and involved the support of OYA Media Group to finish the film so that it could launch on National Indigenous Day on June 21, 2021. I am extremely humbled by this experience. For more information about the film and support systems available please go to the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation project’s web page: https://www.stf.sk.ca/education-today/lets-talk-about-decolonization?

The film features critical commentary a chorus of voices of renown educators guided by Cree Elder Mary Lee. They are: Dr. Herman Michell, Dr. Belinda Daniels, Dr. Mike Cappello and Angie Caron.

Many people generously gave their time and expertise to the project. Please pay attention to the credits and support Indigenous groups and organizations.

“What makes it okay…”

Published by Alison Duke

Writer/producer/director enjoying the process.

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