Indigenizing and Decolonizing Teaching and Learning

University of Alberta Treaty Bear

The University of Alberta respectfully acknowledges that we are located on Treaty 6 territory, a traditional gathering place for diverse Indigenous peoples including the Cree, Blackfoot, Métis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, Ojibway/ Saulteaux/Anishinaabe, Inuit, and many others whose histories, languages, and cultures continue to influence our vibrant community. (Learn more about territorial acknowledgements at the University of Alberta).

The suggestions and resources offered here are not comprehensive; they are meant to serve as possible entry points for your reconciliation journey. This work cannot be successful in isolation, and no one person is responsible for bearing the burden. It is the responsibility of all Canadians to do the work necessary for meaningful change. The fact that you are reading this means you are ready to begin.

Indigenization is the process by which Indigenous ways of knowing, being, doing and relating are incorporated into educational, organizational, cultural and social structures.

Indigenization, Decolonization and Anti-Racism

The University of Alberta endures to create a teaching and learning environment and community that focuses on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and communities (Learn more about current initiatives on campus).

To be effective, these efforts must go beyond inclusive hiring practices (Gaudry & Lorenz, 2018), even beyond merely establishing common ground between Indigenous knowledges and European-centred knowledges.

Addressing Racism in the Academy

Racism is manifested in many ways in our daily lives. As Robin DiAngelo shares, “racism is a structure not an event” meaning that racialized ideology is embedded within our social structures and we need to work hard to eliminate racism and bias.

Ultimately, Indigenization and decolonization efforts are efforts toward ending racism towards Indigenous peoples.


  • Deconstructs colonial ideologies of the superiority and privilege of Western thought and approaches.
  • Involves dismantling structures that perpetuate the status quo and addressing unbalanced power dynamics.
  • Involves valuing and revitalizing Indigenous knowledge and approaches and weeding out settler biases or assumptions that have impacted Indigenous ways of being.
  • For non-Indigenous people, decolonization is the process of examining your beliefs about Indigenous peoples and culture by learning about yourself in relationship to the communities where you live and the people with whom you interact. 

(From: Pulling Together: A Guide for Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors)


Is a collaborative process of naturalizing Indigenous intent, interactions, and processes and making them evident to transform spaces, places, and hearts.

Indigenization benefits not only Indigenous students but all students, teachers, staff members, and community members involved or impacted by Indigenization.

Indigenization seeks not only relevant programs and support services, but also a fundamental shift in the ways that institutions:

  • Include Indigenous perspectives, values, and cultural understandings in policies and daily practices.
  • Position Indigenous ways of knowing at the heart of the institution, which then informs all the work that we do.
  • Include cultural protocols and practices in the operations of our institutions.

(From: Pulling Together: A Guide for Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors)

Not sure where to start? Learn more by reading our next section on Getting Started.