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Doctoral Examination: Transforming Education and Educators: Validating Indigenous Knowledge in Principle and Practice

March 29, 2023 at 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Meredith Rusk, supervised by Dr. Leyton Schnellert and Dr. Karen Ragoonaden, will defend their dissertation titled “Transforming Education and Educators: Validating Indigenous Knowledge in Principle and Practice ” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education.

An abstract for Meredith’s dissertation is included below.

Examinations are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public.

Registration is not required for in-person defences.


The intent of this research was to find ways to guide non-Indigenous teachers within the kindergarten to grade 12 education system to teach Indigenous content and perspectives in meaningful and respectful ways. The research plan involved working with local Secwépemc Knowledge Keepers and non-Indigenous teachers to engage with, and come to understand, local Indigenous Knowledge and perspectives.

To work towards decolonization and reconciliation, this study centered on raising teachers’ consciousness of racism, power, and privilege, and the validation of Indigenous knowledge. Following an Indigenist framework, this paradigm was immersed within Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing. The core methodology was storytelling, and the associated methods included sharing circles, conversations, reflective journaling, and photovoice. To bring myself and my work as the school district’s Indigenous Resource Helping Teacher into the research process, I also integrated a practitioner inquiry methodological approach. This research identified several issues that make the work of decolonization and Indigenization difficult. These include the way educators are immersed within a colonial mindset, the vast differences between Indigenous and Western knowledges and perspectives, and other ongoing effects of colonization including the continued presence of racism.

Understandings that emerged from this study included the way colonial knowledges and values are presently privileged within mainstream education through ongoing racism, teachers’ fears and hesitations about teaching Indigenous content and perspectives, and the way educators and learners continue to be entrenched within colonial mindsets. This study suggests that to fully understand an Indigenous way of being and doing and make decisions on Indigenous Education within the mainstream, Indigenous Voices must be heard. Additional positive elements identified were culturally sustaining and revitalizing teaching practices based on local Indigenous ways of knowing and being. These included teaching to the students’ gifts and/or strengths, building relationships with students, viewing the Land as a way of knowing and learning, and the inclusion of Anti-racism education.


March 29, 2023
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm


University Centre (UNC)
3272 University Way
Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7 Canada
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Additional Info

Room Number
UNC 334
Registration/RSVP Required
Event Type
Thesis Defence
Arts and Humanities, Culture and Diversity, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Indigenous, Policy and Social Change
Alumni, Community, Faculty, Staff, Families, Partners and Industry, Students, Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates