Indigenous Curriculum Resource Centre: Home

The eagle flies the highest in the sky, and in a coast salish story people would seek guidance from the eagle to gain knowledge of faraway places. This representational eagle wing relief was created to bring the knowledge to students as they seek guidance in their studies. -- Marissa Nahanee

Contact Ashley Edwards, Indigenous Initiatives and Instruction Librarian, with any questions.

Taanishi, ey swayel, waytk, yawc̓, nú, hello.

Welcome to the Indigenous Curriculum Resource Centre (ICRC).

The ICRC collects books, articles, websites, and audio-visual materials on Indigenizing curriculum and Indigenous pedagogy, in addition to post-secondary curriculum resources. These materials centre Indigenous approaches to teaching and learning, and support the work of Indigenizing and Decolonizing curriculum at SFU.  The ICRC collection policy provides more information on what can be found in the Centre.

The ICRC has two locations: the online collection that you are currently visiting, and a physical location on the 4th floor of the WAC Bennett Library. To read more about the design elements of the space, and collections see Doing the work in a good way: Information for instructors and course designers about the Indigenous Curriculum. Information about the weavings, see Coast Salish Weavings in the ICRC.
The physical items in the ICRC are organized using a locally modified Brian Deer Classification System, which is an Indigenous knowledge organization system.


In 2015, after seven years of interviews and research, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report, including 94 Calls to Action. While there is a strong theme of education throughout the document, only actions 10 and 62 specifically refer to curriculum at post secondary institutions. 

Responding to the TRC, SFU’s Aboriginal Reconciliation Council released their own report, Walk this Path With Us, in 2017 (ARC report), which includes 34 Calls to Action for the SFU community. 

In response to Calls to Action 12 and 21 of the ARC report, the Library is opening this centre to assist the SFU teaching community with Indigenizing and Decolonizing their curriculum. 

“ is what got us into this mess… but education is the key to reconciliation.” 

Senator Murray Sinclair (Watters, 2015)

What does it mean?

There are many definitions for Indigenization and Decolonization and there are often overlaps as the terms are interconnected. The ICRC uses the definitions in the ARC report to guide the work. Accordingly, Indigenization is “incorporating Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing into the practices (such as curriculum) of the institution” (p. V), and Decolonization is “a socio-political agenda that seeks to redress historical and current practices that have had deleterious effects on Aboriginal peoples” (p. V). For a deeper discussion on these terms, see Gaudry and Lorenz (2018), Tuck and Yang (2012), and the Pulling Together series by BCcampus.

For post secondary institutions, Indigenizing curriculum can be a challenge (ARC report, 2017; MacDonald, 2016). This stems from universities being colonial institutions which assisted in the disruption Indigenous educational practices. Likewise, curriculum tends to rely on the “classics” of each discipline leaving little room or space for additional worldviews.  

Adding Indigenous worldviews to curriculum can be difficult for those without a background in Indigenous topics. What is appropriate to include for each discipline? As MacDonald (2016) asks, should students in engineering have to learn about the fur trade? Maybe not, she writes, but they could be learning about “Indigenous land interests” in relation to professional practice and projects (2016). 

Interview with Dr Jo-ann Archibald (YouTube video)

Video: Q’um Q’um Xiiem (Dr. Jo-ann Archibald), Professor and the director of NITEP (Native Indian Teacher Education Program) at the Department of Educational Studies (EDST), as well as the associate dean for Indigenous Education at the Faculty of Education at UBC, talks about what 'Indigenizing the curriculum' means.

Prioritizing Western education ways and topics has for generations been the norm within Canadian educational systems, at all levels. Because of this, the idea and process of Indigenizing education, practices, and policies can be uncomfortable as we confront the hidden traumatic aspects of Canada’s history, and learn new ways of viewing the world. 

Indigenizing curriculum is the process of incorporating Indigenous authors, stories, and knowledge into existing frameworks and curriculum in a respectful way. It’s about appreciating that there are multiple ways to learn about and understand the world, and valuing Indigenous ways of doing so. 

Within education, Decolonization could be thought of as a movement away from prioritizing of Western-European knowledge. There have been similar movements over the past few years at universities on this topic (see: Rhodes must fall, and Why is my curriculum white?). 

As public schools move towards Indigenizing their curriculum (see: BC’s New Curriculum: Indigenous Knowledge and Perspectives in K-12 Curriculum), post secondary institutions will increasingly host students who expect and are seeking out Indigenous content.  

Note on terminology

On the ICRC webpages the term Indigenous is used to collectively mean First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. Exceptions are where authors use different terms, or using a term in a specific context such as the Indian Act. 

For more information on Indigenous terminology and definitions, check out this Indigenous Studies research guide.


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Decolonization is not a metaphor Tuck, E., & Yang, K.W. (2012).
“Decolonization brings about the repatriation of Indigenous land and life; it is not a metaphor for other things we want to do to improve our societies and schools. [...]  The metaphorization of decolonization makes possible a set of evasions, or “settler moves to innocence”, that problematically attempt to reconcile settler guilt and complicity, and rescue settler futurity.“

Indigenization as inclusion, reconciliation, and decolonization: navigating the different visions for indigenizing the Canadian Academy. Gaudry, A., & Lorenz, D. (2018).
“Based on the input from an anonymous online survey of 25 Indigenous academics and their allies, we assert that indigenization is a three-part spectrum. On one end is Indigenous inclusion, in the middle reconciliation indigenization, and on the other end decolonial indigenization.” (from abstract) 

Indigenizing the academy. MacDonald, M. (2016, April 6).
Provides a look at what Indigenizing the academy means - a transformation at the core of the institution, according to Dr. Shauneen Pete. Various approaches that are being undertaken across Canada are shared.

Pulling together: A guide for Indigenization of post-secondary institutions
A series of open access ebooks created in collaboration with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and BCcampus. Each book was written with a particular group in mind, such as Teachers and Instructors, Curriculum Developers, and Researchers.   

Truth and Reconciliation chair urges Canada to adopt UN declaration on Indigenous Peoples Watters, H. (2015, June 1).
In this interview, Senator speaks of the need to adopt UNDRIP as “the starting point for reconciliation,” and stresses the importance of education.

Truth and reconciliation commission of Canada: Calls to action (2015).
The 94 Calls that accompanied the Final Report released by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  

Walk this path with us, SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council’s Final Report, 2017
Includes brief information on what both Decolonizing and Indigenizing are, summaries of important documents related to Indigenous education, and 34 Calls to Action for the SFU community.

Additional readings

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100 ways: Indigenizing & Decolonizing Academic Programs [article] Shauneen Pete, Aboriginal Policy Studies, October 28, 2016

A Brief Definition of Decolonization and Indigenization [blog post] Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., March 29, 2017 

As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance [book] Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, 2017 [Note: This book is available in print and online.]

Diversity is a White Word [article] Tania Canas, ArtsHub, January 9, 2017

Reconciliation within the Academy: Why is Indigenization so Difficult? [article] Michael Bopp, Lee Brown, & Jonathan Robb

Towards Indigenizing Higher Ed: An online storytelling series [multi-part video presentation, ~1 hr each] Thompson Rivers University, February and March 2017

'Universities don't become different just by wishing for it': Eve Tuck on the challenge of changing academia [article and audio, 4 min] Unreserved, CBC Radio, August 24, 2018 

What do people really mean when they say ‘indigenization’? [article] Jordan Mae Cook, February 22, 2019