First Nations in Canada: Decolonization and Self-Determination


  • Mark Aquash Educational Studies, University of British Columbia



Indigenous Education, Decolonization, Self-Determination


The study of geo-political and policy relationships between First Nations and Canada enables one to consider how Canada has used education as a process of colonizing First Nations, and to consider decolonization and self-determination as processes in education that can derail oppression in First Nation communities. From the position of an Indigenous paradigm, I use histography as an organizing element and consider power relationships through the metaphor of Foucault’s (1991) conceptual framework of panopticism. Colonization processes are deeply rooted in the historical context, policies, and institutions of Canada. Paternalistic power structures and colonization has impacted many generations in First Nation communities. Decolonization and self-determination processes provide an opportunity for First Nation communities to find their own answers.
    Keywords: Indigenous education; decolonization; self-determination

Author Biography

Mark Aquash, Educational Studies, University of British Columbia

Dr. Aquash’s experience in education includes teaching, curriculum development and administrative positions as a Principal and Director at the K-12 level. His thesis entitled "Decolonization and First Nations Control Of Education" is indicative of his interest in First Nations self-determination and sovereignty. He has served in various consulting capacities in education for First Nations in Canada and American Indian Tribes in the United States. Mark has been teaching at the post-secondary level for the past twelve years and continues to maintain connections with First Nation and Tribal communities across North America. He has lectured widely on many of his research interests across Canada and the United States. In addition to being appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Studies, Dr. Mark Aquash has completed a three year administrative assignment as the Director of the Native Indian Teacher Education Program (NITEP) at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Currently, addressing a 3 year research project funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council Canada (SSHRCC) that focuses on group teaching and learning as it is applied to fluency and immersion of the Anishinaabe language.  He continues to work with communities and address his wide range of research interests. Mark's passion continues to be teaching at both graduate and undergraduate levels.




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