SSHRC grant supports research on transforming teacher education with Indigenous wisdom traditions

Education professor Dwayne Donald’s work is among the U of A projects selected for federal funding

Lauren Bannon - 29 August 2023

Dwayne Donald in river valleyUniversity of Alberta education professor Dwayne Donald is among the recipients recently announced as part of a substantial research initiative unveiled by the Government of Canada.

On August 29, the federal government announced an investment of more than $960 million in grants, uniting key granting agencies — including CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC, and CFI — for diverse research programs focused on science and innovation. The programs are aimed at driving positive change and progress for Canada as well as breaking down barriers for an inclusive research community that is reflective of Canada’s diversity.

Donald, who is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair and SSHRC Insight Grant recipient, conducts research focused on reimagining teacher education by taking seriously Indigenous wisdom traditions, an important practice missing in Canada's schools.

Influenced by the nêhiyaw principle of wâhkôhtowin – which refers to the kinship connections between human beings and all forms of life – Donald’s research examines ways to transform teacher education in Canada. He advocates for creating teaching and learning contexts that prioritize balancing current educational practices with Indigenous wisdom understandings of knowledge and knowing.

This approach counters existing Canadian educational models rooted in the Western Age of Enlightenment, which focuses on the intellect and individualism, often ignoring the diverse ways that human beings experience and perceive the world. Rather than conforming to dominant Western approaches that typically deny relationships, he advocates for approaches to teaching and learning that emphasize relationality and interconnectivity.

“I very much view the awarding of this grant as an expression of all the wise guidance that I have been given over many years,” says Donald. “I will be forever grateful for this guidance and sincerely hope that something good can come from this research project.”