A Vision Towards Indigenous Education Sovereignty in Northwestern Ontario


  • Melissa Oskineegish Lakehead U
  • Leisa Desmoulins Lakehead University




To support the calls for Indigenous education sovereignty by the National Indian Brotherhood (1972) and the Assembly of First Nations, (1988), in this paper we explore Indigenous education as envisioned by six educators and knowledge holders in northwestern Ontario. Educators from six different schools and programs who took part in a national project called the National Centre for Collaboration in Indigenous education shared their descriptions and visions of Indigenous education. Findings reveal Indigenous pedagogies that align with Lee and McCarty’s (2017) theoretical framework of culturally sustaining and revitalizing pedagogies to promote and support Indigenous education sovereignty. Their visions include pedagogies grounded in the need for equitable education; Indigenous-led instruction for land-based teachings, traditional practices and languages; and, community-based accountabilities. Their visions illustrate that a deeper understanding of the localized and nationhood contexts of Indigenous sovereignty over education is missing and needed in the ongoing movement towards educational sovereignty.

Keywords: Indigenous sovereignty; Indigenous education; culturally sustaining and revitalizing pedagogies

Author Biographies

Melissa Oskineegish, Lakehead U

Dr. Melissa Oskineegish is a Research Associate for NCCIE in the northwestern Ontario region and an External Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Education at Lakehead University. She is a recent graduate of the Joint PhD program in Educational Studies at Lakehead University whose dissertation examined the role of self-reflective practices in a mandatory Indigenous education course in teacher education. Prior to her graduate studies, she began her teaching career in a northern First Nation community where she was mentored by experienced educators who provided her with guidance on developing curriculum and pedagogical practices that were relevant and meaningful to the students she taught – an aim that influences her current work within Indigenous education research.

Leisa Desmoulins, Lakehead University

Dr. Leisa Desmoulins has served as the Research Lead for NCCIE for the northwestern Ontario region since fall 2017. Many years ago, she married an Anishnaabe man and gained Indian status. Together they raised three Anishinaabe children in Thunder Bay. Family connections ground her in community—Biigtigong Nishnaabeg (formerly the Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation) and Thunder Bay, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the Faculty of Education at Lakehead University. Leisa’s community-led Indigenous research uses researcher-practitioner collaborations to explore intersections between Aboriginal education, sovereignty, and action for justice.