Professor Profiles

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Dwayne Donald

Associate Professor

Education

Secondary Education

About Me

Dwayne Donald was born and raised in Edmonton and is a descendent of the Papaschase Cree. His Blackfoot named is Aipioomahkaa (Long Distance Runner). Dwayne is the son of Allen and Darlene, husband to Georgina, father to Kesho, and uncle to Taryn, Taylor, Kennedy, Kristofer, Sarah, Marshall, Breanne and Lauren.

Dwayne has earned the following academic degrees: Bachelor of Arts (Alberta), Bachelor of Education (Calgary), Master of Education (Lethbridge), and PhD (Alberta). His Master’s thesis work at the University of Lethbridge was done under the supervision of Dr. Cynthia Chambers. The manuscript, titled Elder, Student, Teacher: A Kainai Curriculum Métissage, can be accessed via the following link: http://www.uleth.ca/dspace/bitstream/10133/147/3/MQ83749.pdf

Dwayne’s doctoral dissertation work at the University of Alberta was done under the supervision of Dr. David Geoffrey Smith. The manuscript, titled The Pedagogy of the Fort: Curriculum, Aboriginal-Canadian Relations, and Indigenous Métissage, focuses on the fort as a mythic symbol deeply embedded within the story of Canadian nation and nationality that teaches and naturalizes a divisive and dispiriting civilizational divide separating Aboriginal peoples and Canadians. Dwayne’s central argument in the dissertation is that that universities, schools, classrooms, curriculum scholars, educators, and curriculum documents typically replicate these fort teachings when considering the possible significance of Indigenous peoples and knowledge systems to contemporary educational contexts.

Dwayne’s career as an educator began in the Mathare Valley slums of Nairobi, Kenya. He had the privilege to work alongside Kenyans with the Mathare Youth Sports Association while living in Nairobi. After returning to Canada in 1993, Dwayne began teaching social studies and English at Kainai High School on the Kainai (Blood) Reserve in southern Alberta. This experience changed his life. The opportunity to learn from Kainai Elders and community leaders has had a tremendous influence on Dwayne’s interests and commitments as a curriculum thinker. In 2003, Dwayne and family moved back home to Edmonton to begin doctoral studies at the University of Alberta. He accepted an academic position in the Faculty of Education in 2007.


Research

Dwayne’s primary research commitments focus on the particular problem presented to Canadian educators and curricularists by the recent decision of provincial policy makers to introduce curriculum initiatives that require teacher and student engagement with Aboriginal concerns and priorities. These research commitments are shaped by emerging understandings of Plains Cree and Blackfoot philosophies that provide insight into Aboriginal-Canadian relations and the tensions often at play when Aboriginal peoples and their concerns are discussed in classroom contexts. Dwayne attends to the colonial character of these relations and believes that engaging educators in a critical genealogical excavation of this colonial terrain, as a way to help them better understand the deeply influential colonial frontier logics that inform it, will promote more ethical classrooms engagements with Aboriginal perspectives. To view a lecture Dwayne gave at the University of Lethbridge (July 2010) titled: 'On what terms can we speak? Aboriginal-Canadian relations as a curricular and pedagogical imperative,' click on this link.

Dwayne is also committed to research that attends to place and story as these are remembered and enacted by Plains Cree and Blackfoot peoples today. He is particularly interested in promoting a particular kind of ecological imagination that would encourage Canadians to rethink, reframe, and reimagine the places that they call home and, by extension, reimagine their relationships with Aboriginal peoples. This work seeks to trouble the presumed finality provided by maps of Canada through deep consideration of the significance of Indigenous notions of sovereignty, place, story, and the possibility that we might ‘map’ territory according to different priorities and affiliations. To read a story of a class field trip to the Ribstones site in May 2010, click on this link.

In doing this work, Dwayne follows a decolonizing research sensibility called Indigenous Métissage. Indigenous Métissage is inspired by Plains Cree and Blackfoot philosophical insights that emphasize contextualized and place-based ecological interpretations of ethical forms of relationality. These influences come together to support the emergence of a decolonizing research sensibility that provides a way to hold together the ambiguous, layered, complex, and conflictual character of Aboriginal-Canadian relations without the need to deny, assimilate, hybridize, or conclude. It describes a particular way to pay attention to these tensions and bring their ambiguous and difficult character to expression through researching and writing.

If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies in education on these topics or related issues, please contact Dwayne directly at dwayne.donald@ualberta.ca.


Teaching

Courses Taught

Invited instructor for various Introductory Professional Term and Advanced Professional Term courses that provide students subject area specific preparation for their teaching practicums. I provide expertise for teaching and learning from Aboriginal perspectives.

EDES 409: Aboriginal Curriculum Perspectives
EDSE 504: Curriculum Inquiry
EDSE 401: Indigenous Wisdom Traditions, Place-Based Pedagogy, and Aboriginal Curriculum Perspectives