Pulling Together: A Guide for Leaders and Administrators

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Pulling Together: A Guide for Leaders and Administrators

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Pulling Together: A Guide for Leaders and Administrators by Sybil Harrison, Janice Simcoe, Dawn Smith, and Jennifer Stein is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

The CC licence permits you to retain, reuse, copy, redistribute, and revise this book — in whole or in part — for free, providing the author is attributed as follows:

Pulling Together: A Guide for Leaders and Administrators by Sybil Harrison, Janice Simcoe, Dawn Smith, and Jennifer Stein is used under a CC BY-NC 4.0 licence.

This textbook can be referenced. In APA style, it should appear as follows:

Harrison, S., Simcoe, J., Smith, D., & Stein, J. (2018). Pulling Together: A Guide for Leaders and Administrators. Victoria, BC: BCcampus. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/indigenizationleadersadministrators/

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-77420-052-0

Print ISBN: 978-1-77420-051-3

Artist Statement

Inspired by the annual gathering of ocean-going canoes through Tribal Journeys, ‘Pulling Together’ created by Kwakwaka’wakw artist, Lou-ann Neel, is intended to represent the connections each of us has to our respective Nations and to one another as we Pull Together. Working toward our common visions, we move forward in sync, so we can continue to build and manifest strong, healthy communities with foundations rooted in our ancient ways.

Thank you to all of the writers and contributors to the guides. We asked writers to share a phrase from their Indigenous languages on paddling or pulling together…

‘alhgoh ts’ut’o ~ Wicēhtowin ~
kən limt p cyʕap ~ si’sixwanuxw ~ ƛihšƛ ~
Alh ka net tsa doh ~ snuhwulh ~
Hilzaqz as q̓íǧuála q̓úsa m̓ánáǧuala wíw̓úyalax̌sṃ ~
k’idéin át has jeewli.àat ~ Na’tsa’maht ~
S’yat kii ga goot’deem ~ Yequx deni nanadin ~
Mamook isick

Thank you to the Indigenization Project Steering Committee, project advisors and BCcampus staff who offered their precious time and energy to guide this project. Your expertise, gifts, and generosity were deeply appreciated.

Project Steering Committee

Verna Billy-Minnabarriet, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology
Jo Chrona, First Nations Education Steering Committee
Marlene Erickson, College of New Caledonia, BC Aboriginal Post-Secondary Coordinators
Jan Hare, University of British Columbia
Colleen Hodgson, Métis Nation British Columbia
Deborah Hull, Project co-chair, Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training
Janice Simcoe, Project co-chair, Camosun College, I-LEAD
Kory Wilson, BC Institute of Technology


Dianne Biin, Project Manager and Content Developer
Michelle Glubke, Senior Manager
Lucas Wright, Open Education Advisor

Supported by


Government of British COlumbia

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Purpose of this guide

The Leaders and Administrators Guide is part of an open professional learning series developed for staff across post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. Guides in the series include: Foundations;Pulling Together: Foundations Guide: https://opentextbc.ca/indigenizationfoundations/ Leaders and Administrators;Pulling Together: A Guide for Leaders and Administrators: https://opentextbc.ca/indigenizationleadersadministrators/ Curriculum Developers;Pulling Together: A Guide for Curriculum Developers: https://opentextbc.ca/indigenizationcurriculumdevelopers/ Teachers and Instructors;Pulling Together: A Guide for Teachers and Instructors: https://opentextbc.ca/indigenizationinstructors/ Front-line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors;Pulling Together: A Guide for Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors: https://opentextbc.ca/indigenizationfrontlineworkers/ and Researchers.Pulling Together: A Guide for Researchers, Hiłḱ̠ala: https://opentextbc.ca/indigenizationresearchers/These guides are the result of the Indigenization Project, a collaboration between BCcampus and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. The project was supported by a steering committee of Indigenous education leaders from BC universities, colleges, and institutes, the First Nations Education Steering Committee, the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association, and Métis Nation BC.

These guides are intended to support the systemic change occurring across post-secondary institutions through Indigenization, decolonization, and reconciliation. A guiding principle from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada process states why this change is happening.

Reconciliation requires constructive action on addressing the ongoing legacies of colonialism that have had destructive impacts on Aboriginal peoples’ education, cultures and languages, health, child welfare, the administration of justice, and economic opportunities and prosperity. (2015, p. 3)

We all have a role to play. As noted by Universities Canada, “[h]igher education offers great potential for reconciliation and a renewed relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.” (2015) Similarly, Colleges and Institutions Canada notes that “Indigenous education will strengthen colleges’ and institutes’ contribution to improving the lives of learners and communities.” (2015) These guides provide a way for all faculty and staff to Indigenize their practice in post-secondary education.

Leaders and administrators must help paddle the canoe to achieve Indigenization.
Fig 0.2: Pulling Together: A Canoe Journey

The Indigenization Project can be described as an evolving story of how diverse people can journey forward in a canoe (Fig 0.1). In Indigenous methodology, stories emphasize our relationships with our environment, our communities, and with each other. To stay on course, we are guided by the stars in the sky, with each star a project principle: deliver holistically, learn from one another, work together, share strengths, value collaboration, deepen the learning, engage respectfully, and learn to work in discomfort. As we look ahead, we do not forget our past.

The canoe holds Indigenous Peoples and the key people in post-secondary education whose roles support, lead, and build Indigenization. Our combined strengths give us balance and the ability to steer and paddle in unison as we sit side by side. The paddles are the open resources. As we learn to pull together, we understand that our shared knowledge makes us stronger and makes us one.

The perpetual motion and depth of water reflects the evolving process of Indigenization. Indigenization is relational and collaborative and involves various levels of transformation, from inclusion and integration to infusion of Indigenous perspectives and approaches in education. As we learn together, we ask new questions, so we continue our journey with curiosity and optimism, always looking for new stories to share.

We hope these guides support you in your learning journey. As open education resources they can be adapted to fit local context, in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples who connect with and advise your institution. We expect that as more educators use and revise these guides, they will evolve over time.

How to use and adapt this guide

The inspiration for the Leaders and Administrators Guide is the leadership demonstrated at Camosun College in advancing Indigenization. For 12 years, the college, located on the traditional territories of the Lkwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, has worked collaboratively to make space for Indigenous ways of knowing and being within the institution, paving the way for positive change.

The guide contains a number of sections that include reflections and other activities that can be done either individually or collectively. The best way to use the guide is to spend approximately 20 hours (4 hours per section) engaging with the material and resources, which will support your understanding of Indigenization. You will spend time reading and reflecting, and you are encouraged to journal or record your insights, learnings, and reflections. As a leader and learner, you will need to be patient, open, and ready to receive the gifts of Indigenization.

This guide can be used as part of a learning community or in a group learning experience, adapting and augmenting it to include Indigenization pathways at your institution for Indigenous students and communities.

The Leaders and Administrators Guide is not a definitive resource, since First Nation, Métis and Inuit perspectives and approaches are diverse across the province. We invite you to augment it with your own stories and examples, and, where possible, include Indigenous voice and perspectives from your area in the materials.

To learn more about Indigenous-Canadian relationships since contact, please go to the Foundations Guide.

Note: For a technical description of how to adapt this guide please see Appendix A.

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Waw Nowitka: Acknowledgements


Pulling Together: A Guide for Leaders and Administrators was designed as an educational resource for post-secondary leaders by a Camosun College–based team, which included:

Fig 0.1: Camosun College Team. Left to right: Dawn Smith, Sybil Harrison, Janice Simcoe, and Jennifer Stein.

Janice Simcoe (Anishnabe), Director, Indigenous Education and Community Connections

Sybil Harrison, Director, Learning Services

Jennifer Stein, Instructional Designer

Dawn Smith (Nuu-chah-nulth), Indigenization Education Developer


The Camosun College team acknowledges the invaluable Indigenous leadership of the past and present who have spent countless hours advancing Indigenous education. As a team, we acknowledge and respect the self-determining vision for Indigenous control over Indigenous education.

Special thanks and appreciation to leaders who have graciously participated in the development of the Leaders and Administrators Guide. The leaders recognized for their contributions are:

Skip Dick (Songhees), Elder
Sherri Bell, President, Camosun College
John Boraas, Vice-President Education, Camosun College
Joan Yates, Vice-President Student Experiences, Camosun College
Ian Humphries, Dean School of Access, Camosun College
Nella Nelson (Kwakwaka’wakw), Administrator for Aboriginal Nations Education, Victoria School District 61
Corrine Michel (Secwepemc), Indigenization Coordinator, Camosun College
Kendra Underwood (W̱SÁNEĆ), Director, Saanich Adult Education Centre
Angus Graeme, President, Selkirk College
Kathleen Absolon (Nishnaabeg), Jackie Price (Inuit), and Linda Smith (Maori)

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Indigenous Values



First Nations, Métis, and Inuit share similar values, which are foundational to leadership. For this guide, the seven values articulated by Nishnaabeg author Leanne Simpson (2011) in her book Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence (pp. 124–127) provide the vehicle or vessel for the journey. Kokum Dibaajimowinan, the grandmothers’ teachings around courage, truth, respect, love, honesty, wisdom, and humility, are common values typically reflected in Indigenous teachings.

Aakde’ewin (Courage)

The Nishaabeg have the phrase Aakde’ewin, which translates as “courage” or the “art of being brave.” Simpson describes it as meaning “strong-hearted” – “not in the physical sense, but in relation to Debwewin (truth). Aakde’yin might be used to describe the weakest person physically, but this kind of strength comes from knowing who one is, grounding in self-knowledge.”

Debwewin (Truth)

The art of truth, or Debwewin, also translates as “sound of the heart,” where speaking from the heart is emphasized. Understanding Debwewin means knowing what it takes to be a good human being. Simpson adds, “being a good person was being a person whose word you could trust.”

Mnaadendiwin (Respect)

Mnaadendiwin translates as “respect” or the “art of respect” – the act of deeply cherishing each other. We are to work toward seeing each other and cherishing each other for who we are, and in doing so we become one. Simpson adds, “We become a family of deeply cherished individuals of one mind.”

Zaagidewin (Love)

Zaagidewin translates as “love.” It is unconditional love, which is “similar to the qualities expressed in Gzhwe (great mystery, Creator). He spoke of one bearing their soul and heart nakedly, expressing a complete vulnerability, reminding me of a newborn baby. When one comes to another bearing his or her soul, completely trusting that the other person will be non-judgmental, caring and gentle, he or she come expecting acceptance, gentleness, kindness and nurturing.”

Gwekwaadiziwin (Honesty)

Gwekwaadiziwin describes living a straight or honest life. Another term for this value is Kaazhaadizi. A person with Kaazhaadizi embodies love, is totally giving, and openly accepts another person. Simply, it is to be kind.

Nbwaakawin (Wisdom)

“One way that gentleness, kindness and humility are expressed in our intellectual pursuits is through the concept of Nbwaakawin, commonly translated as knowledge,” Simpson writes. Nbwaakawin “means to put others before one’s own self. In other words, you can think about yourself after you have thought about others, so that even though you might have knowledge or know about a particular concept, you cannot always show what you know. In a sense Nbwaakawin keeps ego in check.”

Dbadendiziwin (Humility)

Simpson concludes with Dbadendiziwin, the art of humility or humbleness, which “is to never look upon yourself as being better than anyone else.” Dbadendiziwin also means to look after or maintain oneself.

Nuu-chah-nulth Prayer


Offered by Levi Martin of Tla-o-qui-aht,
February 2013 (Smith, 2017)

wai kaš nas haa łapi hawaał
(why kash nahs haa thla-pi haawaylth)

Praise the light of day, the creator

wai kaš nas haa łapi hawaał
(why kash nahs haa thla-pi haawaylth)

Praise the light of day, the creator

łaak łaakʷas suu tił hawaał
(thalk thlakwas soo tilth haawaylth)

I am pleading with you, creator

qaa ciiʔis łim̕aq sti
(kaa chii is thelee-muks stee)

Give me strength

haaʔakʷap̕s hawaał
(haa akwa piss hawaylth)

Keep me strong

čaa maa pił ʔa p̕is
(chaa akwa piss hawaylth)

Help me to stand with honour, dignity, and respect

Ehattesaht Territory. Lake and Mountains
Fig 0.3: Ehattesaht Territory.

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Nuu-chah-nulth prayer is offered by Levi Martin as an original prayer to share. It is not subject to the Creative Commons license and must be cited when used as “offered by Levi Martin, Tla-o-qui-aht”. Traditionally, if you offer a prayer you are granting it’s use and reciprocity for when it’s needed. As you receive this prayer, always cite who gave you the prayer before you use it.

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Indigenous languages help provide context and reflect the lived experience of Indigenous Peoples. Chinook jargon, which was developed by Indigenous Peoples to communicate across cultures, nations, and languages, is therefore used throughout this guide. In the spirit of reviving Chinook jargon as an inclusive means of communicating, it has been integrated in the text wherever possible.

The choice of Chinook jargon was inspired by Dawn Smith’s memories of her Grandpa Moses Smith of Ehattesaht. Moses was Nuu-chah-nulth and grew up speaking the Ehattesaht dialect and hearing both Chinook jargon and English. He sought to keep Chinook jargon alive throughout his life and would often say it was a sophisticated way to facilitate communication among diverse groups.

Indigenization in post-secondary institutions is not necessarily a new aspect of governance or academia; however, following the publication of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) final report and its corresponding 94 Calls to Action, Indigenization became a renewed priority for many post-secondary institutions in Canada. Indigenization is a growing discourse, as well as a welcomed process within most Canadian post-secondary institutions. Further, Indigenization is inclusive of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit perspectives.

The TRC recognized the role of education in the lives of Indigenous Peoples, and the responsibility education now has in reconciling and in addressing the historical and current injustices faced by Indigenous Peoples. TRC Commissioner Murray Sinclair (Ojibway) stated that “education is the key to reconciliation,” adding, “education got us into this mess, and education will get us out of this mess” (CBC, 2015).

Indigenization is a personal journey that begins with looking inward and seeking opportunities to learn. And, like most Indigenous journeys, it involves sacrifice and ceremony. Each stage of this journey will provide a different perspective, intended to give you the time and space to reflect and prepare yourself to act in accordance with your new learning. A number of post-secondary leaders who continue to inspire change and lead by example have influenced the development of this guide. The guide therefore includes qualitative research that draws on specific interviews with Indigenous people and post-secondary leaders.

The Indigenization journey includes seven distinct stages:

Mamook kloshe – prepare

Mahsh – boat launch

Isick – paddle

Elip nanitch – discover

Iskum – gather

Lolo illahee – bring home

Okoke nikas – share

This guide is therefore structured around the stages of a journey – preparation, launch, paddle, discover, gather, bring home, and share. Together, these stages speak to the journey of achieving something great: traditionally it would have been whaling or a canoe journey to a neighbouring territory; today the greatness that is sought is Indigenization.

Each stage of the journey includes aspects of nature that connect us to the land and animals:

bear icon

Chetwood, the black bear, represents intentionality and our values, which help prepare and launch the journey.

raven icon

Kahhah, the raven, represents our behaviour, which includes the determination to paddle to the place where we will discover what we need to be successful in the journey.

wolf icon

Leloo, the wolf, is the one who gathers the community that chooses to travel together.

salmon icon

Sammon, the salmon, represents the wealth to bring home from the journey and share with community.

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Ikta: What is Indigenization?


Indigenization is a journey filled with yaa-yuk-miss (Atleo, 2004). This is a Nuu-chah-nulth term that expresses both the love and pain involved in transformative experiences. Indigenization is a process that requires an appreciation of the sacred and that must include ceremony. One must prepare emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically for the journey of Indigenization.

The Indigenization process strives to share Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing in ways that will educate and engage all members of the college or university community and foster the effective inclusion of Indigenous learners and educators.

In Reconciliation within the Academy: Why Is Indigenization So Difficult? by Michael Bopp, Lee Brown, and Jonathan Robb (2017, p. 2), Indigenization is defined as “the process of creating a supportive and comfortable space inside our institutions within which Indigenous people can succeed.” Certainly this is not the only definition; however, it is offered as a workable articulation of Indigenization.

Bopp, Brown, and Robb (2017) write that success in Indigenization is not just about students completing their course work, but also about “reframing knowledge production and transmission within the academy from an Indigenous perspective.”

Fig 0.4: Instructor Artemis Fire (Métis) with student award recipient Christie Robbins (‘Namgis).

Indigenization acknowledges the invisibility of Indigenous Peoples within post-secondary institutions and the absence of Indigenous knowledge within institutional frameworks. To address these gaps, Indigenized institutions will seek Indigenous voices in educational decision making and maintain partnerships with local Indigenous communities, organizations, and institutions while being responsive to these communities’ aspirations of self-determination.

Indigenization means using “culturally responsive curriculum and pedagogy.” Indigenized curriculum should help ensure that non-Indigenous people develop skills and knowledge to enable them to work with and live alongside their Indigenous neighbours knowledgably and respectfully.

And finally, Indigenization depends on the reciprocal nature of mentorship, where Indigenous scholars and leaders lend their support to allies by sharing their knowledge and experience to ensure the retention and success of Indigenous learners.

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Section 1: Chetwood Black Bear


Mark Point leading a prayer at the Indigenzing the Academy Conference at UFV
Fig 1.1: Mark Point, University of the Fraser Valley

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Chetwood (Black Bear)


Bear icon

FOR YOU TODAY, my friends, I raise sacred smoke. For you who are troubled confused, doubtful, lonely, afraid, addicted, unwell, bothered or alone, I raise sacred smoke. For those of you in sorrow, grief or pain, I raise sacred smoke. For those of you who work for people, for change, for spiritual evolution, for upward and onward growth of our common humanity and the well-being of our planet, I raise sacred smoke. For those of you in joy, in the glow of small or great triumphs, who live in love, faith, courage and respect, I raise sacred smoke. And, in the act of all this, I raise also for myself.
– Richard Wagamese (2016, p. 86)

Purpose of this section

Explore the importance of Indigenization for yourself and your institution.

On completing this section, you will be able to:

  • identify your personal values and beliefs.
  • explain why Indigenization is important for you and why you want to Indigenize your practice and/or your institution.
  • identify who else needs to be involved in Indigenization.

Estimated time to complete this section is four hours. The activities can be done either individually or as a group.

Chetwood represents the intentionality of our values as individuals and as educational leaders. In this section, you will begin to explore and identify your personal values along with those of your institution and consider what organizational policies and practices are in place with respect to Indigenization. As you begin to recognize your personal values and those of the institution, your intentions as a leader with respect to building relationships with Indigenous Peoples and community will be strengthened.

Chetwood represents two aspects of the Indigenization journey: Mamook kloshe, preparing for the journey, and Mahsh, the act of launching the journey or setting your canoe in the water. Preparation involves knowing yourself first, and understanding the why of Indigenization and territorial acknowledgement, while recognizing the emotional connections between what you know about Indigenous Peoples and what you have learned. Finally, the launch is implementing what you have learned by forming relationships with Indigenous Peoples and communities.

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Mamook Kloshe (Prepare)


Integral to an Indigenous worldview is the value placed on preparing to undertake a significant journey. Preparation typically involves ceremony, such as smudging or praying, to provide safety and guidance for those involved in the journey. The ceremony also provides time to reflect and consider the purpose of a journey. In terms of the Indigenization journey, this is when you might open yourself up and find the courage to be challenged, to learn new ways of knowing and being, and to unlearn some of your beliefs and assumptions.

In Wisdom Sits in Place: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache, Keith Basso (1996, p. 105) writes, “To know who you are, you have to have a place to come from.” He stresses the importance of place and acknowledgement of place, particularly in terms of understanding your values and beliefs in relation to your surrounding environment and how it sustains your life. Acknowledgement of place also connects us to a people, a culture, and a history that has been largely ignored in education

You must also seek to understand the why of Indigenization, while making an emotional connection to the content. You must first explore and identify your own personal biases, prejudices, and perceptions of Indigenous Peoples before embarking on the institutional Indigenization journey. Knowing yourself, and your values and beliefs, is an essential aspect of this journey.

Nella Nelson of the Kwakwaka’wakw peoples and administrator for School District 61’s (Victoria) Aboriginal Nations Education encourages individuals to explore and examine who they are. She said:

It starts with self, understanding, because all learning takes place in relationships, so first of all you have to have that relationship with yourself…. Once you understand and know yourself, you can then move forward in doing the research and being involved. It’s important to face that and look at it. Then you can start to unravel what the story is and the history of our people.

Nella pointed out that you must be prepared to confront the story and history of Canada with openness and self-awareness.

Angus Graeme, president of Selkirk College, made a similar point. He said:

You have to spend time reflecting on and learning about what this work truly means and how critically important it is. It’s about knowing yourself as a human being first. Knowing what your values and beliefs are. And it is so important to understand that before engaging in relationship building with Indigenous Peoples and communities.

Knowing yourself is an important aspect of Indigenization, particularly as it relates to the values and beliefs of the local Indigenous Peoples. For example, the Nuu-chah-nulth believe that everything is connected and one, and therefore if one element is missing it affects everything else connected to it. Nuu-chah-nulth value salmon, and their fishing practices reflect their reverence (e.g., traps designed to allow small fish to escape).

Part of the Indigenization journey is understanding the why. Individuals often question, challenge, and ask why we should Indigenize, why Indigenization is so important, and what it means for students. These are important questions, requiring you to be ready for and open to the complexities of the Indigenization journey. It is a process that requires time and patience as you navigate the multiple layers of history, colonization, and the experiences of Indigenous Peoples.

Camosun College’s Indigenization coordinator, Corrine Michel, believes that getting people to understand why Indigenization is important is the first step. She said, “People aren’t aware of the impacts of colonization, so you have to go right back to Canadian and colonial history and explain it.” Explaining colonial history takes courage, time, and patience; remembering the seven grandmother teachings is helpful.

John Boraas, Camosun College’s vice-president of education, shared his personal experience of coming to the college. He grew up in northern BC and started his career there. He felt he had a good idea of what Indigenization meant based on his experience teaching Indigenous students. However, on arriving at Camosun he realized he had to “up his game” when new colleagues like Janice Simcoe, director of Indigenous education and community connections, challenged him on his assumptions about and approaches to Indigenous education. He recognized that he needed to explore more deeply the pedagogies and practices related to Indigenization. He also recognized that his journey required him to move from a practice informed by personal experience to what he describes as a more “head approach,” moving from the emotional to the intellectual and compelling him to take a deep dive into the literature and scholarship of Indigenization.

Indigenous educators take seriously the responsibility to help others in a good way, particularly to support the learning journey of those who have embarked upon Indigenization. Nella observed that while schools now present the history of Canada more realistically, there is still the question, why do we have to do this? In response, she explains that Indigenous Peoples are a part of Canadian history, and the question really should be, why aren’t we Indigenizing? She added, “It is a time when we begin to do the work for ourselves. Everybody is on a journey, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, when you’re Indigenizing curriculum.”

In her role as Indigenization coordinator, Corrine always creates space and time for critical conversations, often starting at the very basic level with colleagues who have not made the connection between colonization and its assimilationist policies and the conditions for Indigenous Peoples.

Joan Yates, Camosun College’s vice-president of student experience, emphasizes that a fundamental part of her job is to encourage people to understand the why of Indigenization. While the what and the how are important, Joan believes that as leaders, the visceral piece is the why, because, as she said, “If you do not get people’s hearts engaged in [Indigenization] then you are not going to see change.” Joan added:

When explaining the why, I talk about the economy and the social components. I do hear from staff and especially students that people don’t have the full story. That somehow when you have the emphasis on Indigenization you’re being politically correct. No, we’re doing things to acknowledge what should have been acknowledged, which to me is a better definition of politically correct. Correcting wrongs. So there are things I would prefer that students don’t say, and I think it persists because people haven’t been fully integrated into the why piece. As leaders we have to own the why.

Part of the learning journey is to understand who Indigenous Peoples are through their experiences with colonization and government policy and practice. As you work through the materials and resources in this guide and elsewhere, you begin to recognize the injustices Indigenous Peoples face, particularly by reading about residential schools, child welfare, or violence. Indigenous scholar Dr. Lee Brown notes that when there is an emotional connection to the content, an individual will naturally be inclined to connect with difficult or challenging materials.

Nella was drawing on the teachings of Dr. Lee Brown herself when she stated, “You cannot change an attitude without an emotional experience,” adding that doing the good work in education brings your heart into the process, and that is what will transform education and teachers.

Sherri Bell came to Camosun College to serve as its president in 2015, after working as Superintendent of School District 61, where she developed a deep connection and relationship with Nella. Sherri described her pride as a Canadian as coupled with an anger that emerged as she began to learn about the history of Canada and its Indigenous Peoples. She also recognized the efforts of Dr. Lee Brown when she made the connection to the deep learning that occurs when there is an emotional connection to the content. “That’s what we’re talking about,” Sherri said, “the emotional connection to a story. Your own learning can’t take place until there is visceral emotional connection to the content.” Put yourself in the shoes of those who have experienced tremendous pain at the hands of educators in residential schools. Only then can you imagine what it must have been like to experience cultural genocide.

In a similar way, Joan noted that her understanding of Indigenization did not really form until she became a parent, when she made the connection between residential schools and her own child. “What if they took my precious child away from me?” she said. It was this emotional reaction that allowed her to truly relate to the experiences of Indigenous Peoples.

Mahsh (Boat Launch)


As an educational leader, once you have determined who you are and what your personal values and beliefs are, then you can recognize your responsibility to work genuinely and respectfully with Indigenous Peoples and communities. Building bridges and relationships with Indigenous Peoples and communities takes not only time and patience, but also the ability to be present and to listen intently.

Kendra Underwood, director of the W̱SÁNEĆ Adult Education Centre, shared the history of the relationship of her communities, Tsartlip, Tsawout, Tseycum, and Pauquachin, with Camosun College. The education centre and the college have long provided programs and services together, and in 2012 their 40 years of working together was reflected in a formal relationship agreement.

Kendra believes a genuine interest in partnering with First Nations communities is essential in building relationships. When working together, it is important to honour the knowledge and expertise that First Nations bring to the partnership. Additionally, an appropriate amount of time is required to nurture those relationships, on the part of both the First Nation community and the college or university. Time must be provided for leadership to come together to discuss what an effective post-secondary–nation partnership can look like.

Kendra added, “It is so important for senior leadership, not only at the community level, to be present, but also at the post-secondary institution level too, to have a president sit down and meet with a chair of a school board or a Chief of a community.” She also noted that different post-secondary partners or new faculty members approach the school often; her advice would be to come and ask, humbly, “What would be your recommendation?” This kind of openness, transparency, and humility, being unsure but willing to ask the questions while feeling comfortable to say when you are feeling outside of your element, is greatly appreciated. “We might not know the answers,” she said, “but we will try to find the answers.”

Nella also spoke about the work involved in building relationships: “You have to build bridges. When you build those bridges, it makes a difference in how things shift and change.” Bridges are built through awareness of Indigenous Peoples and collectively sharing stories of who the people you share this land with are. Efforts to integrate Indigenous ways of knowing and being are advancing; however, racism remains an issue to be confronted. Nella noted that she shares stories to help build bridges, “because it’s the stories that will connect hearts, not the facts.”

Angus stated:

Our work started with shifting the focus in our Aboriginal Services department from solely recruitment and advising functions to a more comprehensive student support and relationships approach…. During this time we also focused efforts and strengthened relationships with leaders in the regional First Nations on whose traditional territories Selkirk College has campuses and learning centres (West Kootenay Boundary region) as well as the regional Métis community.

Ian Humphries, dean of the School of Access at Camosun College, embraces his role in the institution, building relationships with local Indigenous communities. John Boraas encourages his peers to focus on building relationships, noting that you must do the listening part; do not assume you know, because the issues vary from place to place.



Preparation is important when embarking on a journey. Knowing yourself and your values and beliefs will help you understand the why of Indigenization. Understanding the why will in turn strengthen your ability to develop and maintain relationships with Indigenous Peoples and communities in a way that will benefit students, staff, and the institution as a whole.


Activity 1: Self-Reflection

Time: 20 min

Type: Individual

Identify your core values, both personally and professionally, and compare them with the Indigenous valuesIndigenous values: https://opentextbc.ca/indigenizationleadersadministrators/front-matter/indigenous-values/ shared at the beginning of this guide.

  1. What are the similarities and dissimilarities between them?
  2. Do any of the Indigenous values particularly resonate for you?

Activity 2: Strategic Plans and Principles

Time: 30 min

Type: Individual

Look at your institution’s strategic plan. Have any Indigenous values been reflected in it?

If not, review Colleges and Institutes Canada’s (CICan) Indigenous Education Protocol for Colleges and Institutes Indigenous Education Protocol for Colleges and Institutes: https://www.collegesinstitutes.ca/policyfocus/indigenous-learners/protocol/ and Universities Canada principles on Indigenous education [PDF].Universities Canada principles on Indigenous education: https://www.univcan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/principles-on-indigenous-education-universities-canada-june-2015.pdf

  1. Has your institution endorsed either of these documents?
  2. If so, has your institution created accountability measures to meet these protocols and principles?

Section 2: Kahkah (Raven)


Fig 2.1: Eyēʔ Sqȃ’lewen staff at pit cook, Camosun College, 2016.

Media Attributions

Kahkah (Raven)


Raven icon

I always think about what my grandmother said to me – “You’re being made ready for your real work.”

– Edna Manitowabi (Ojibway) (Anderson & Lawrence, 2003, p. 121)

Purpose of this section

Make connections between yourself and Indigenous Peoples and communities.On completing this section you will be able to:
  • identify current practices that demonstrate respect for place, language, protocols, and ceremony.
  • apply an Indigenous perspective to your institution’s policies and practices.

Estimated time to complete this section is four hours. The activities can be done either individually or as a group.

The raven, kahkah, and its behaviour are important for Indigenous Peoples on Turtle Island. There are many stories about the kahkah. For example, in Nuu-chah-nulth oral history, kahkah is closely linked to creation and the light of day (Atleo, 2004, p. 6). Kahkah is highly revered for its intellect and determination and for bringing the light of the day, which also brings hope and illuminates the way forward.

In this section, you will see how Indigenization can be supported and shaped through storytelling, as stories help to bridge concepts and build common understanding. The use of stories also helps shape behaviour as you learn how to communicate with learners, partners, and colleagues across the institution and Indigenous communities. Kahkah learns by mimicking, watching, and including others, and through trial and error. The stories shared in this section highlight how you can shape behaviours and processes to support and build promising practices for your institution.

As you have already begun to explore, build, and maintain relationships with Indigenous Peoples and communities, you are now ready to paddle together to a place where you will discover new learning(s). As you paddle toward your destination, stories are shared, bringing everyone together to a place where they will begin to discover the courage it takes to Indigenize. Along the way, the complexities of Indigenization arise and will be challenging to tackle, but they are part of the journey of a lifetime (the doing) – an educational journey that you take both on your own and with others and your mentors, learning to open yourself up to love, courage, and humility.

Media Attributions

Isick (Paddle)


Now that your Indigenization journey has launched, this is the time to consider how to synchronize the paddle strokes. Often a journey involves getting to know one another in the canoe, by telling stories and recognizing what needs to be done to reach the destination.

Nella Nelson shared the following:

I’m really blessed because my mom is a real social butterfly and did lots of visiting, and we didn’t have television. What I didn’t realize then was that I was incorporating the stories I heard. Now I find that every time I’m going to do a presentation I’m always thinking about a story or an experience that I can share, because it’s the stories that will bridge the hearts, not the facts. What you’re doing is going to that heart place, and people will then take that experience on for themselves. They can see themselves in your story. So stories are really critical in how we broach and work through things, and like I said, I have been really blessed to be a witness to a lot of stories.

Fig 2.2: Left to right: Geoff Wilmshurst, Joan Yates, John Boraas, Sherri Bell Orange Shirt Day, Camosun College, 2016.

Angus Graeme described how Selkirk College fundraised and built a Gathering Place at the Castlegar campus. The 2012 opening of the Gathering Place was a watershed moment, after which the college began offering more comprehensive student supports, ceremony, celebrations of traditions, and learning experiences for students and the community. Angus said:

We have held three multi-day youth conferences celebrating Indigenous youth, culture, and learning. We started an Elders-in-residence program in 2015. We have brought a number of important guest speakers to the college (including Wab Kinew and Justice Murray Sinclair). We have regular cultural activities in the Gathering Place and at our other sites (drumming, smudges, Elders, cultural evenings). Staff in our Aboriginal Services department are currently renewing and expanding our Indigenization Plan for the college…. We are currently undertaking SSHRC-funded research with our nation partners on reconciliation through college education.

Ceremony and coming together in community to share stories are among the most effective ways to isick. It creates the bonds and connections that facilitate paddling together.

Camosun College has embraced storytelling as an effective way of bringing to life college values around Indigenization. In February each year, the entire college community gathers for Conversations Day. An invited speaker, such as Richard Wagamese and Chief Robert Joseph, shares their story. The listeners – 700 people representing every part of the college – then take time to connect in small groups and talk on more personal level. The day also features speakers from the college who address the audience with their own personal story. The stories and the opportunity to listen, laugh, and cry together cement the bonds of relationship across the college.

In the process of preparing to isick you begin to build an understanding of who Indigenous Peoples are and the need to Indigenize your institution. Understanding the why of Indigenization provides the time and space to develop a genuine acknowledgement of Indigenous Peoples. Protocols such as acknowledging territory in an institutional ceremony like graduation come more naturally. It is important to know and understand who the Indigenous Peoples of the territory you work, live, and play on are. Territorial acknowledgements vary, so take time to learn what is most appropriate or acceptable on your territory, and learn to adjust when you visit other institutions.

Elip Nanitch (Discover)


Indigenization is a journey of discovery, a learning process that requires acceptance, courage, curiosity, and humility. The post-secondary leaders interviewed spoke at great length about the importance of learning, of taking the time to educate yourself about Canada’s history in relation to Indigenous Peoples and the issues facing Indigenous Peoples today. For example, John Boraas spoke about his desire to delve into the literature and scholarship of Indigenization, while Sherri Bell and others identified TELŦIN TŦE WILNEWTELŦIN TŦE WILNEW is a SENĆOŦEN term meaning “understanding Indigenous Peoples.” as a foundational resource that significantly helped them develop a better understanding who Indigenous Peoples are.

TELŦIN TŦE WILNEW was launched at Camosun in 2009, and since then over 350 instructors, staff, and administrators have completed the program. TELŦIN TŦE WILNEW is delivered by Indigenous facilitators, face-to-face in circle gatherings and through online engagement. The five-week course (a four-hour-a-week commitment) provides insight into an Indigenous worldview, describes the impact of colonization and how it affects students attending the college today, and guides participants in the development of new teaching and learning methods.

Camosun College leaders described how TELŦIN TŦE WILNEW helped prepare them to engage in a good way in building relationships with Indigenous Peoples and communities. Learning about the historical context of Indigenous Peoples’ experiences in Canada angered most leaders, but motivated them as well.

Ian Humphries was motivated to apply his skills as a project manager to this task; he noted, “Indigenization is more than just talk; it is about operationalizing it.” Ian led the development of a project plan to frame Camosun’s response to the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action. He added that adopting a project management approach to Indigenization ensures that you know who is doing what and how much that is going to cost. It is important to know that progress is being made, and that helps to ensure that the work gets done. Roadmaps are helpful from a leadership perspective.

Sherri Bell noted that it is her job to make sure things are moving forward, that the strategic pieces are in place, and that improvements are being made. The plan is the North Star, leading travellers to their destination.

The post-secondary leaders who were interviewed stressed the need for mentorship and role models in the process of Indigenization. John reflected on how Janice Simcoe has guided him over the years. Sherri mentioned the support and mentoring she received over the years as an administrator in the K–12 sectors, and how she developed relationships with new mentors and Elders at the college. Ian echoed these sentiments, stating that working with Indigenous faculty, staff, and Elders had an incredible impact on him in his learning journey.



In this section you have heard stories about the importance of listening, learning, and sharing, all of which are helpful in building relationships with Indigenous Peoples and communities. When there has been listening, learning, and sharing, the acknowledgement of territory can then be informed and done with respect for the local Indigenous community. Institutional direction that provides for the advancement of Indigenization, including Indigenous mentorship and role models, is equally important.


Activity 1: Protocols and Ceremonies

Time: Ongoing

Type: Individual

Identify ceremonies and other events at your institution that support collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and communities.

  1. How is your institution supporting capacity building in areas of Indigenous research and educational development?
  2. How do leaders in your institution demonstrate respect for place, language, ceremonies, and protocols?

Activity 2: What would you do?

  1. What are your recommendations for Indigenization at your institution?

Section 3: Leloo (Wolf)


Pow Wow drumming only hands and drum sticks visible
Fig 3.1: Pow Wow

Media Attributions

Leloo (Wolf)


Wolf icon


I raise the pipe of my being to the rising sun in openness and humility. With my eyes closed, I give thanks to the Life Giver and ask for strength to be humble through the course of this day. I smudge myself with sacred medicines and give thanks for the blessings that are already present in my life. I ask for nothing. I only offer thanks. Then in gratitude and humility, I enter the journey of the day. This is wakefulness, this is become, this is ceremony—and I am made more.

– Richard Wagamese (2016, p. 137)

Purpose of this section

Explore educational partnerships with Indigenous Peoples and communities, and ways in which they are created and maintained.

On completing this section you will be able to:

  • unpack the complexities of community-based engagement and relationship building.
  • recognized the importance of leadership and collaboration

Estimated time to complete this section is four hours. The activities can be done either individually or as a group.

Leloo is representative of the gathering aspect of the journey; you will gather not only new knowledge, but food or resources as well. These harvesting activities, if you like, require a collaborative effort that lends itself to the unfolding of transformative experiences by working together.

As you work through this section, you will recognize the complexity of community-based engagement and relationship building. Take time to explore the diversity of Indigenous governing structures, which might include both Chief and Council and hereditary Chiefs. It’s important to consider how your institution’s governance structures – board, executive and leadership, senate, and education councils – engage with local Indigenous leaders and their governance structures.

Media Attributions

Iskum (Gather)


Gathering resources to bring home and share requires a certain level of knowledge. As you paddle, your curiosities about Indigenization grow and the journey becomes less intimidating. However, Indigenization is layered and, as John Boraas stressed, “Indigenization is complex!” Accepting Indigenization and its challenges requires leadership and a commitment to the process. Indigenization cannot be explained in a single book or article, as there are numerous perspectives on it; however, there is a need to understand the why of Indigenizing the institution.

Much time and consideration must be spent asking yourself the question, Why not Indigenize? Gathering resources also means taking what you have learned and forming your perspective on Indigenization in a way that benefits others within the institution. As previously noted, perhaps the biggest challenge is getting people to understand the why of Indigenization. Many people do not know the impacts of colonization or the history of Canada in relation to Indigenous Peoples because they have not yet made the connections between assimilationist policies and practices and Indigenous Peoples.

Start at the most basic level when embarking on Indigenization, to mitigate assumptions about Indigenous Peoples. And recognize the importance of understanding your responsibility in relation to Indigenization. Corrine Michel emphasized that Indigenization is everyone’s responsibility. Responsibility for this work needs to be embedded across the institution, with many people, in order for the work to have an impact. Too often, Indigenization has been seen as the purview only of the Indigenous education department and its faculty.

From a community perspective, Kendra Underwood highlighted the nature of the partnership that the W̱SÁNEĆ Tribal School and Adult Education Centre has had with Camosun College, together offering local community and academic programming to support the educational vision of the W̱SÁNEĆ First Nations. Kendra noted that over the more than 40 years the two organizations have worked together, they have gone from a handshake to a partnership agreement to the existing relationship agreement, and a genuine interest to partner and a commitment to working in a good way continue to exist.

Kendra spoke to the nature of community partnerships and what is at their core: relationships. It is about working together to value and honour the knowledge and expertise that a First Nation brings to the table, and reciprocity in terms of the contributions that both partners make to deliver programming, especially in community-based education. Kendra’s advice for building relationships is to be honest, open, and up-front: she always deeply respects someone if they come to her to share their uncertainty and ask for recommendations. The openness, transparency, and humbleness of being unsure, but asking questions anyway, is valued and appreciated in community. The community might not know the answers, but will appreciate the humility, and there will be a willingness to support and guide or make recommendations if challenges arise during program delivery. Uncertainty will exist on both sides of the partnership; being up-front and open is the best policy.

Relationship Agreement 2012-2017 [PDF] Camosun College and W̱SÁNEĆ Adult Education Centre

Kendra said that many First Nation communities are approachable. Sometimes just acknowledging that we’re in unknown territory and that we’re both very humble in our approach can help us work together to overcome any obstacles or barriers that we might face. Camosun College and W̱SÁNEĆ Adult Education Centre work together to address community needs while closing the educational gaps. Other community relationships are fostered by Elder representation on advisory councils and providing Elder support for students. Events such as Camosun’s Indigenous Welcome Feast, Orange Shirt Day, and the pit cook also help bring Camosun College and local Indigenous communities together.

Media Attributions



Leadership plays an important role in Indigenization, providing a sense of the responsibility to engage respectfully with Indigenous Peoples and communities. Understanding the diverse nature of Indigenous Peoples and governing structures provides opportunities to work together in delivering much-needed educational services to Indigenous Peoples and communities.


Activity 1: Ways to build community partnerships

Time: 1 – 2 hours

Type: Individual, Group

  1. How are community partnerships fostered at your institution?
  2. Review the Post-Secondary Education Partnership Agreement Toolkit [PDF].Post-Secondary Education Partnership Agreement Toolkit: http://iahla.ca/wp-content/uploads/IAHLA-Toolkit-Dec-2011.pdf What can you do to ensure that Indigenous perspectives are an integral component of the institutional fabric?

Activity 2: Taking responsibility

Time: Ongoing

Type: Individual

Take a moment to write down:

  1. What your responsibility is in maintaining or creating Indigenous partnerships in your institution?
  2. How are you going to achieve this?
  3. How are you going to paddle together?
  4. What will your contributions be?

Section 4: Sammon (Salmon)


Fig 4.1: Women singing and drumming, pit cook, Camosun College, 2017.

Media Attributions

Sammon (Salmon)


Salmon icon

Chi-Miigwech for helping me on my search
Help me to listen with an open mind
And to see with an open heart
Help me recognize the leadership and wisdom of those before me
And to honour the knowledge of those today and those of the past
Give me the landmarks so that I can remember my own path for those to come
Help me to not get lost on this search
And to gather with humility and integrity
Zhiway miishnaun G’chi’ Manidoo…
Chi’miigwech G’chi’Manido for your guidance

– Kathleen E. Absolon (2011, p. 32)

Purpose of this section

Explore institutional change, now that you have explored your values and beliefs, and the community that your institution serves.

On completing this section you will understand:

  • how institutional change occurs.
  • why it is important to create environments of caring and giving.

Estimated time to complete this section is four hours. The activities can be done either individually or as a group.

In the sammon phase of this journey, you will begin to reflect on how you might develop and resource Indigenization work rather than considering Indigenization as a stand-alone initiative or pilot. This will facilitate embedding Indigenization in all plans (strategic, financial, student engagement, academic) and in governance. In this phase, you will also explore how to share accountability for Indigenization among all levels of administration and leadership while recognizing equity of Indigenous expertise, knowledge, and practice (human resource policies, workload, roles and responsibilities). Finally, you will learn about resourcing and requiring training for instructors in community-based programs and services. As a leader, you are responsible for bringing home the harvest or knowledge and sharing it, as an act of generosity. The three areas of sammon are the voices of experience, reciprocity, and generosity.

Media Attributions

Lolo Illahee (Bring Home)


In this journey, the return home with the bounty of the harvest is important. The community gathers to help with the processing of the harvest, and here we draw on the voices of experience to help us understand what is involved in the harvest process, which requires everyone to work together.

The voices of experience share the importance of institutional strategic planning and developing project plans as a way to communicate the institution’s priorities. Sherri Bell noted:

As a leader of the institution, I am responsible for making sure that we are moving forward. I’ve been part of many things where there’s lots of talk, but it’s always better to be moving forward with a plan, seeing things happen. So that strategic piece is something that is the head part but the act of doing is super important as well.

The collective doing is an essential aspect of working together to promote institutional change.

Fig 4.2: Camosun College pit cook, 2017.

Ian Humphries spoke to the focus needed when working with a project plan for Indigenization:

The plan is far more than just checkmarks. It’s very important to have some sense of progression, and know that the work is getting done. We’ve had discussions at the college about the little train that goes up the hill but doesn’t quite manage to get over the top. But my interest in project charters and project plans is that it really helps me in terms of making sure the stuff gets done, of getting the train over the hill. We get so busy, so many things going on, so it’s good we have a roadmap to keep us on course.

Developing an institutional work plan is a critical aspect of any new initiative. When doing so, it is important to be mindful of the relationships and consultation with Indigenous Peoples and communities.

Angus Graeme noted that Selkirk College has signed memoranda of understanding with the Okanagan (Syilx) Nation, the Ktunaxa Nation, the Colville Confederated Tribes (Lakes/Sinixt), and Métis Nation British Columbia. The memoranda outline the principles and commitments Selkirk has made to its partner communities to serve Indigenous students. Selkirk has also signed institutional memoranda with the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and the En’owkin Centre, and is a very proud signatory to Colleges and Institutes Canada’s (CICan) national Indigenous Education Protocol.

Working in consultation and in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and communities supports collaboration, which in turn supports student success. Leadership is an essential component of Indigenization. Janice Simcoe recalled working with Liz Ashton, former president of Camosun College, who acknowledged that Indigenization was something that had to happen. “She didn’t try to run it,” Janice said. “She didn’t try to be the expert on it. She just said, yes, this is one of the things that we’re going to do as a college.” Liz Ashton and others helped pave the way, and her leadership reduced resistance.

Some of the best advice given by the post-secondary leaders that we interviewed was to learn to take risks, be vulnerable, and be curious. Sherri noted that she could take risks and make mistakes because the Indigenous faculty and staff provided her with a safe space and an opportunity to make the mistakes and take risks. John Boraas explained how taking risks, being vulnerable, and being curious have followed him into his personal life, and how he has challenged family and friends on their assumptions about Indigenous Peoples.

Dos and don’ts of Indigenization

A quick snapshot offered by the voices of experience:


Build genuine relationship with Indigenous Peoples and communities

Be patient with yourself and others

Be willing to help others learn

Take risks

Be vulnerable

Be curious

Give Indigenization time

Be prepared to challenge learners on what they have learned about Indigenous Peoples

Be open

Acknowledge efforts of allies


Make assumptions

Be adversarial

Attack learners

Be afraid to make mistakes

Alienate learners

Be afraid to ask questions

Okoke Nikas (Share)


Reciprocity is a shared value among Indigenous Peoples, and the act of giving and receiving is an important aspect of Indigenization. To illustrate reciprocity, Janice remembered colleagues who emerged as allies. One person at the Teaching and Learning Centre provided guidance and mentorship with respect to organizational change:

She was mentoring us and listening to us, and doing the most wonderful thing that an ally could do, which is practising real reciprocity. When she was mentoring us, she also was very openly learning from us, not so that she would be wiser and smarter and have greater expertise, but because she really wanted to learn.

Reciprocity is demonstrated by acknowledging the efforts of those who take time to understand who Indigenous Peoples are, particularly allies at all levels of education. Nella Nelson added:

I really want to acknowledge our allies and champions from all different races that have been willing to risk themselves to do things and to weave content in. Scared that they might be infringing on protocol but willing to do it and to walk with us and to champion for us. There aren’t enough of us to do it alone. We need to honour that they’re taking their time to work with us and willing to share their experience with children. I think we need to hold our hands up to them and acknowledge those allies and champions who are also doing it with us.

Generosity is at the core of who Indigenous Peoples are, and it is a value that is held in high regard. Generosity is found in many stories depicting the way in which we should live our lives. Dr. Martin Brokenleg (2010, pp. 8–11) includes generosity in the Circle of Courage, noting that the spirit of generosity is thought to be the character that is cultivated by concern for others, so that the child can say, “I have a purpose for my life.” Further, Brokenleg notes that this

virtue was reflected in the pre-eminent value of generosity. The central goal in Native American child-rearing is to teach the importance of being generous and unselfish. In the words of a Lakota Elder, “You should be able to give away your most cherished possession without your heart beating faster.” In helping others, youth create their own proof of worthiness: they make a positive contribution to another human life.

Nella’s sentiments were similar, but with the focus on service. She said:

As an Indigenous person who is seen as leader in the community or facilitating change process, you can never lose sight of the fact that you are who you are because of your family. Community leaders need to be visible in the community and they need to give back to the community. You must be of service to your community, and that means volunteering on those boards at the various organizations, to be present at the activities. It’s important to never lose sight of your roots.

John noted, “The generosity shown by Indigenous people and communities is admirable, influencing leaders to apply the same principle in their practice.”



Founded on values of reciprocity and generosity, the voices of experience help bring home new learnings on Indigenization to share with others. Listening to these voices, we learn the importance of consultation with Indigenous Peoples and communities in developing work plans, Memorandum of Understandings, and more.


Activity 1: Reflect on teachings you have received about Indigenization

Time: Ongoing

Type: Individual

  1. What are the key learnings you want to share with others? And how will you share them and encourage others to Indigenize and travel with you?
  2. How does your institution create spaces for/instances of reciprocity for learners, staff, and community?

Activity 2: Acts of reconciliation

Time: Ongoing

Type: Individual

  1. Review the 150 Acts of Reconciliation150 Acts of Reconciliation: http://activehistory.ca/2017/08/150-acts-of-reconciliation-for-the-last-150-days-of-canadas-150/ and create your own personal Indigenization Action Plan.

Section 5: Winapee (Future)


Fig 5.1: Haida Canoe

Media Attributions

Winapee (Future)



I know nothing
of great mysteries
know less of creation
I do know
that the farther backward
In time that I travel
the more grandmothers
and farther forward
the more grandchildren
I am obligated to both

– Lee Maracle (1996, p. 8)

Purpose of this Section

Apply what you have learned to your practice.

On completing this section you will be able to:

  • recognize processes that influence Indigenization.
  • implement aspirations for Indigenization.

Estimated time to complete this section is four hours. Activities can be done either individually or as a group.

A man in a rain jacket
Fig 5.1: Elder Skip Dick, pit cook, Camosun College, 2017.

Elder Skip Dick reminded us that children are the reason why we do the important work of Indigenization in education. Indigenous teachings are mindful of the past, present, and future. Indigenization should reflect the teachings of ancestors and keep the needs of future generations at its core. The leaders interviewed for this guide were asked what they hope to see 25 years in the future in regard to Indigenization.

Angus Graeme said that Selkirk College will soon be delivering a new three-credit course, Regional Perspectives, developed by experts and knowledge-keepers from partner nations. New ideas around supporting First Nations and Métis students to transition to employment are taking shape and inspiring the college. He added:

All of this work and the plans we have for the future related to indigeneity, decolonization, and reconciliation at Selkirk College start with students at the centre. The work is fundamental and transformative for our college. We are serving our students, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, more effectively and more completely, and we are providing important leadership in our communities. We are a much better and complete college on this journey. And we continue to improve. The journey is long but worth every step….

What does Indigenization look like in 25 years? I believe that for a college to be successful, Indigeneity will be so engrained in the governance, operations, courses, programs, and services at the college that the term Indigenization will no longer be needed. Indigenous students will be confident and successful, proud of who they are, and proud of their cultures, traditions, and languages. We will have increased the number of faculty and staff who identify as Indigenous. The college will be a vibrant place of learning. Wouldn’t it be amazing if 25 years from now (if not sooner!) the president of the college were an Indigenous person and a Selkirk College alumni?

Ian Humphries shared the following:

In terms of the dream piece, I would love to be in a place, and this is referenced in our Reconciliation Plan, where everyone has the knowledge, there is no more ignorance about what happened in Canada historically with respect to colonialism and its impact. Camosun will be a place where Indigenous students feel very comfortable and supported, and it’s a place where our non-Indigenous students develop a much better understanding of Canada’s history.

John Boraas values the idea of the seven generations, the Indigenous pedagogy that encourages learners to consider the three previous generations, while looking ahead at the next four generations. He hopes that this perspective becomes engrained into institutional governance and planning.

Kendra Underwood shared the vision of growing the tribal school. She said:

I think it would be amazing to look forward to see First Nation satellite campuses very closely attached to our post-secondary institutions. I think that would also help us to alleviate a misconception that still is present, not only within the partnerships at times, but in the province around post-secondary community-based partnerships as simply being a facility rental agreement. And for anyone that works in community-based education and delivers partnership programming, we know that our programs are so much more than a fee-for-service or a facility-rental agreement.

Corrine Michel said:

Our vision for Indigenization at Camosun is for Indigenous ways of knowing and being, doing and relating to become natural at the college. I think this is already happening; people do consider Indigenization. They don’t always know how to do it, but before, they weren’t even aware of having to ask the question and they were just trying to get around it – in curriculum approval processes, for example. I now see people really understanding the value and necessity of Indigenization by building relationships, and ensuring that Indigenous Peoples are seen in a positive light by bringing Indigenous scholarship into courses. Incorporating the circle of courage into curriculum is something I hope for, so that some of those affective elements like sense of belonging and sharing and generosity are incorporated into the way courses are run.

Linda Smith suggested that teachers must “love our children as learners, and empower them with the courage they need to journey into the future with all the hopes and dreams of their ancestors.” Further, she noted, “educational success gives our people options to decide their own future.”

The journey to Indigenize is not a journey to take lightly; in fact, you must be well prepared for such a challenging but rewarding journey. We know that for the journey to be a success, the launch will require teamwork, as it cannot be done in isolation. This journey prepares us to paddle together in one direction, to discover the unknown, and to gather the newly acquired knowledge and bring it home to share

The journey to Indigenize your practice also provides space for other important aspects of education, such as diversity and inclusion. In this respect, to Indigenize your practice in post-secondary education is to humanize your practice.



You now have a knowledge base for Indigenization. The sammon phase of the journey is about integrating Indigenization into the institution and its systems, while providing insights into the process and looking forward into the future.


Activity 1: Self-Reflection

Time: Ongoing

Type: Self-refection

How do you see yourself influencing Indigenization in your own practice and/or your department, school, or faculty?

Activity 2: Integrating Indigenization

Time: Ongoing

Type: Self-refection

Now that you have come this far in your learning, and as a leader and/or administrator, you have the capacity to lead the Indigenization process. What will you do to build your institution’s Indigenization story and to paddle with Indigenous Peoples and communities into the future?

Journey Well


In practical terms, Indigenization represents willingness on the part of educational leaders to bring knowledge and awareness of Indigenous Peoples – First Nations, Métis, and Inuit – to the forefront of institutional policy and practice. The journey to Indigenize your practice really begins with you and your desire to deliver good education to all students. This journey is not without connections between the heart (emotional) and the mind (intellectual), nor is it easy work. If you have made it to the end of this guide, you have likely encountered yaa-yuk-miss (love and pain) along the way. However, you have prevailed and stayed true to yourself in overcoming the challenges and barriers. Your sincere effort to complete this journey will benefit not only you and your understanding of who Indigenous Peoples are, but others as well. You have done well and should be proud of yourself; keep up the good work, because now it is time to take on the important work of Indigenization.

We leave you with the words of Sitting Bull: “Let us put our minds together to see what kind of life we can build for our children.”

“Let us put our minds together to see what kind of life we can build for our children.”

Additional Resources


There is a rich and growing body of books, articles, videos, and websites focusing on Indigenizing education. The following resources have been chosen to support the journey outlined in this guide.

Camosun College, Centre for Indigenous Education and Community Connections (Eyēʔ Sqȃ’lewen). (2013). Inspiring relationships: Indigenization plan [PDF]. http://camosun.ca/learn/school/indigenous-education-community-connections/about/publications/indigenization-plan13.pdf

Camosun College, Centre for Indigenous Education and Community Connections (Eyēʔ Sqȃ’lewen). (2017). Aboriginal service plan: Final report 2016–2017 [PDF].  http://camosun.ca/learn/school/indigenous-education-community-connections/aboriginal-service-plan/aboriginal-service-plan.pdf

Canadian Association of University Teachers. (n.d.). Guide to acknowledging First Peoples and traditional territory. https://www.caut.ca/content/guide-acknowledging-first-peoples-traditional-territory

Colleges and Institutes Canada. (n.d.). Indigenous education protocol. https://www.collegesinstitutes.ca/policyfocus/indigenous-learners/protocol/

On Being, Civil Conversations Project. (2017). Better conversations: A starter guide [PDF]. Minneapolis, MN: Krista Tippett Public Productions. https://onbeing.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/8.5x11_BetterConversationsGuide_July2020_FINAL.pdf

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to action PDF]. http://nctr.ca/assets/reports/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). Honouring the truth, reconciling for the future: Summary of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada [PDF]. http://nctr.ca/assets/reports/Final%20Reports/Executive_Summary_English_Web.pdf

Universities Canada. (2015). Universities Canada principles on Indigenous education. https://www.univcan.ca/media-room/media-releases/universities-canada-principles-on-indigenous-education/

University of Victoria, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, & Indigenous and Higher Learning Association. (2011). Post-Secondary Education Partnership Agreement Toolkit [PDF]. http://iahla.ca//wp-content/uploads/2019/06/PUBLICATION-IAHLA-Toolkit-Dec-2011.pdf

W̱SÁNEĆ School Board & Camosun College. (2012). Relationship agreement 2012–2017 [PDF]. http://camosun.ca/learn/school/indigenous-education-community-connections/about/publications/wsanec-agreement12.pdf

Archibald, J. (2008). Indigenous storywork: Educating the heart, mind, body, and spirit. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press.

Battiste, M. (2013). Decolonizing education: Nourishing the learning spirit. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press.

Bishop, A. (2015). Becoming an ally: Breaking the cycle of oppression in people. Halifax, NS: Fernwood.

Cajete, G. (2015). Indigenous community: Rekindling the teachings of the seventh fire. Minneapolis, MN: Living Justice Press.

Davis, L. (2010). Alliances: Re/Envisioning Indigenous-non-Indigenous relationships. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

de Oliveira Andreotti, V., Stein, S., Ahenakew, C., & Hunt, D. (2015). Mapping interpretations of decolonization in the context of higher education. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society, 4, 21–40. http://www.decolonization.org/index.php/des/article/view/22168/18470

Doerfler, J., Sinclair, Niigaanwewidam J., & Stark, H. Kiiwetinepinesiik (Eds.). (2013). Centering Anishinaabeg studies: Understanding the world through stories. Winnipeg, MB: University of Manitoba Press, 2013.

Gallop, C.J., & Bastien, N. (2016). Supporting success: Aboriginal students in higher education [PDF]. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 46, 206–224.  http://journals.sfu.ca/cjhe/index.php/cjhe/article/view/184772/pdf

Giroux, M. (2017, November 19). If “indigenizing” education feels this good, we aren’t doing it right. The Conversation. http://theconversation.com/if-indigenizing-education-feels-this-good-we-arent-doing-it-right-87166

Kahane, P. (2017). Collaborating with the enemy: How to work with people you don’t agree with or like or trust. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

Kuokkanen, R. (2008). Reshaping the university: Responsibility, Indigenous epistemes, and the logic of the gift. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press.

Pete, S. (2016). 100 ways: Indigenizing and decolonizing academic programs. Aboriginal Policy Studies, 6, 81–89. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5663/aps.v6i1.27455

Sellars, B. (2012). They called me number one: Secrets and survival at an Indian residential school. Vancouver, BC: Talon Books.

Tuhiwai Smith, L. (2012). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London, England: Zed Books.

Vowel, C. (2016, September 23). Beyond territorial acknowledgements. Âpihtawikosisân (blog). http://apihtawikosisan.com/2016/09/beyond-territorial-acknowledgments/

Cahana, K., & Ou, E. (directors). (2017). Dancing towards the light. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/dancing-towards-the-light-nunavut-youth/

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. (2013). Reds, Whites & the Blues. (CBC Newsworld documentary; available to Curia.ca subscribers only.) https://curio.ca/en/video/reds-whites-the-blues-822/

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. (June 2015). Interview with Justice Murray Sinclair on The National. http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2668647786

Johnson, S. (Mukwa Musayett). (2017). Towards Indigenizing Higher Ed: An Online Storytelling Series. Thompson Rivers University. https://towards-indigenizing.trubox.ca/foundations/

Sinclair, Niigaanwewidam J. (2016). What does an Indigenous university look like? TEDxUManitoba. https://youtu.be/egZ9w2Xkp90

Sinek, S. (2009). How great leaders inspire action. TEDxPuget Sound. https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en

S’TENISTOLW 2017: Indigenous Adult Education Conference (August 23–25, 2017, Camosun College). Keynote speaker videos:

Vowel, C. (2017). Indigenization in the time of pipelines. (2016–2017 Weweni Indigenous Scholars Speaker Series, University of Winnipeg). https://youtu.be/_h8ucu3J-tk

Camosun College, Centre for Indigenous Education and Community Connections (Eyēʔ Sqȃ’lewen). (n.d.). Indigenization Initiative: Inspiring relationships. http://camosun.ca/about/indigenization/index.html

Fraser, C., & Komarnisky, S. (2017). 150 acts of reconciliation for the last 150 days of Canada’s 150. ActiveHistory.ca. http://activehistory.ca/2017/08/150-acts-of-reconciliation-for-the-last-150-days-of-canadas-150/

KAIROS Canada. (n.d.). What is the KAIROS Blanket Exercise?  https://www.kairosblanketexercise.org/

On Being. (n.d.). Civil Conversations Project. http://www.civilconversationsproject.org/

University of Alberta. (n.d.). Indigenous Canada (Massive Open Online Course/MOOC). https://www.ualberta.ca/admissions-programs/online-courses/indigenous-canada

University of British Columbia. (n.d.). Reconciliation through Indigenous education (Massive Open Online Course/MOOC). http://pdce.educ.ubc.ca/reconciliation/



Absolon, K. (2011). Kaandossiwin: How we come to know. Halifax, NS, and Winnipeg, MB: Fernwood.

Anderson, K., & Lawrence, B. (2003). Strong women stories: Native vision and community survival. Toronto, ON: Sumach Press.

Atleo, E. R. (Umeek) (2004). A Nuu-chah-nulth worldview: Tsawalk. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press.

Basso, K. (1996). Wisdom sits in place: Landscape and language among the Western Apache. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

Bopp, M., Brown, L., & Robb, J. (2017). Reconciliation within the academy: Why is Indigenization so difficult? Cochrane, AB: Four Worlds Centre for Development Learning.

Brokenleg, M. (2010). The resilience revolution: Our original collaboration [PDF]. Reclaiming Children and Youth 18(4) 8–11. Retrieved from http://martinbrokenleg.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Brokenleg_18_4.pdf

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (June 2015). Interview with Justice Murray Sinclair on The National. Available from http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2668647786

Colleges and Institutes Canada. (2015). Indigenous education protocol for colleges and institutes. Retrieved from https://www.collegesinstitutes.ca/policyfocus/indigenous-learners/protocol/

Maracle, L. (1996). I am woman: A Native perspective on sociology and feminism. Vancouver, BC: Press Gang.

Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake (2011). Dancing on our turtle’s back: Stories of Nishnaabeg re-creation, resurgence, and a new emergence. Winnipeg, MB: ARP Books.

Smith, Dawn. (2017). Doctoral thesis (in progress). University of British Columbia.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). What we have learned. Principles of truth and reconciliation [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.trc.ca/assets/pdf/Principles%20of%20Truth%20and%20Reconciliation.pdf

Universities Canada. (2015, June 29). Universities Canada principles on Indigenous education. Retrieved from https://www.univcan.ca/media-room/media-releases/universities-canada-principles-on-indigenous-education/

Wagamese, R. (2016). Embers: One Ojibway’s meditation. Vancouver, BC: Douglas & McIntyre.


Glossary of Terms


Aakde’ewin: one of the seven grandmothers’ teachings (Kokum Dibaajimowinan), in Anishinaabemowin, means courage, the art of being brave, or being “strong-hearted,” not in the physical sense but in the sense of self-knowledge.

Chinook jargon: developed by Indigenous Peoples as an inclusive means of communicating across cultures, nations, and languages.

Dbadendiziwin: one of the seven grandmothers’ teachings (Kokum Dibaajimowinan), in Anishinaabemowin, means the art of humility, never looking upon yourself as better than anyone else, and looking after yourself.

Debwewin: one of the seven grandmothers’ teachings (Kokum Dibaajimowinan), in Anishinaabemowin, means truth, or “sound of the heart” in the sense of speaking from the heart.

Gwekwaadiziwin: one of the seven grandmothers’ teachings (Kokum Dibaajimowinan), in Anishinaabemowin, means living a straight or honest life.

ikta: “what” in Chinook jargon.

Indigenization: a relational and collaborative process that involves various levels of transformation, from inclusion and integration to infusion of Indigenous perspectives and approaches in education.

kahta: “how” in Chinook jargon.

Kokum Dibaajimowinan: in Anishinaabemowin, means the grandmothers’ teachings around courage, truth, respect, love, honesty, wisdom, and humility, common values typically reflected in Indigenous teachings.

Mnaadendiwin: one of the seven grandmothers’ teachings (Kokum Dibaajimowinan), in Anishinaabemowin, means respect, or deeply cherishing each other.

Nbwaakawin: one of the seven grandmothers’ teachings (Kokum Dibaajimowinan), in Anishinaabemowin, means putting others before yourself, and keeping ego in check.

Turtle Island: the name the Lenape, Iroquois, Anishnaabe, and other Woodland Nations gave to North America. The name comes from a story about Sky Woman. Many Indigenous people, Indigenous rights activists, and environmental activists now use the term for North America.

wake siah kopa: near, “not far there” in Chinook jargon.

yaa-yuk-miss: a Nuu-chah-nulth term that expresses both the love and pain involved in transformative experiences.

Zaagidewin: one of the seven grandmothers’ teachings (Kokum Dibaajimowinan), in Anishinaabemowin, means love, or unconditional love.

Appendix A: Adapting this Guide


What is Pressbooks?

Pressbooks is a web-based authoring tool based on the WordPress authoring platform. If you’ve created a website using WordPress, you’ll find some similarities working with Pressbooks.  Pressbooks allows you to create content once and publish it in many different formats.  These export formats enable the resource to be easily imported and edited in different platforms such as WordPress, Wikis and even learning management systems. The formats appear at the bottom of the web version of the resource to allow other users to easily export and adapt the resource. These features will allow the resources we are developing to be used, adapted, contextualized and localized by different institutions and communities. Pressbooks will make the resource more available to different users by giving them the option of accessing it on the web, on their mobile devices or print it out as a PDF document. By designing each part of the resource as a standalone guide, institutions will be able to select and adapt the sections to use, edit, and adapt for their context. These features will allow the resources we are developing to be used, adapted, contextualized, and localized by different institutions and communities.

Export formats

Print PDF Allows documents to be easily shared while retaining the same visual formatting. It is page-oriented and has a static layout. Print PDF optimized for printing.
Digital PDF  For digital PDF distribution.
xHTML  This format allows the resource to used and edited in different systems.
WordPress XML  These files can be imported into WordPress and the resources can be easily adapted into an interactive website.
EPUB EPUB files are designed for portability. These files are used for most eBooks and other eReaders. The point of these files is not to provide editing capability, but to deliver a comprehensive package that contains all elements of a book including text and images — like a zipped package — to a device for reading.
MOBI For Kindle eReader.

Ways that I can adapt this guide

Pressbooks is available to staff and faculty at all post-secondary institutions in B.C. at https://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/.  This allows each institution program or course to copy this guide into your own instance of Pressbooks and adapt it to include local content, context, and resources. You can then export the guide you have created into any of the different formats above. You can also import this guide into your local instance and revise it, localize it, and adapt it there. This will also enable you to add multimedia or even interactive components.

Versioning History


This page provides a record of changes made to this guide since publication. Each set of edits is acknowledged with a 0.01 increase in the version number. The exported files for this guide reflect the most recent version.

If you find an error in this guide, please fill out the Report an Open Textbook Error form.Report an Open Textbook Error: https://open.bccampus.ca/use-open-textbooks/reporting-an-open-textbook-error/

Versioning History
Version Date Type of change Description
1.00 September 5, 2018 Book published.
1.01 August 6, 2019 Updated the book’s theme. The styles of this book have been updated, which may affect the page numbers of the PDF and print copy.
1.02 October 2, 2019 ISBNs and Metadata eBook and Print ISBNs, licence and publisher information added.
1.03 October 16, 2020 Updated broken links Corrected broken links for
  • Better Conversations: A starter guide
  • Post-Secondary Education Toolkit
  • How great leaders inspire action
  • TRC: What we have learned. Principles of Truth and Reconciliation