Exploring Canadian Undergraduate Environmental Science/Studies Programs’ Engagement with The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, Indigenous Epistemologies and Climate Change

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Mantifel, Alexa
reconciliation , Indigenous ways of knowing (IWK) , Indigenous epistemologies , climate change , TRC , environmental science and studies, , decolonization , education , post- secondary
Since settlers began colonizing this country, Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) person have been excluded from Canadian society, including educational institutions, and they are facing disproportional impacts of climate change. This research project fills gaps in knowledge of how Canadian Environmental Science/Studies Programs (CESSPs) are responding to the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report and Calls to Action, engaging with Indigenous epistemologies and addressing climate change. A case study of the ‘U15’ Group of Canadian Research Universities’ undergraduate Environmental Science/Studies Programs (ESS) programs used semi-structured interviews and content analysis to explore how programs are responding. This research found that CESSPs are responding to the TRC Calls to Action in a variety of ways, such as engaging with Indigenous Ways Knowing (IWK) in course curriculum, and having climate change curriculum embedded in their course. Programs particularly are engaging with IWK by having curriculum developed by Indigenous knowledge holders, and using experiential learning. However, engagement with the TRC Calls to Action has not been fully incorporated within CESSPs, and IWK are not embedded in climate change curriculum. The results from this research project indicate that there is need for CESSPs to engage with the TRC Calls to Action further, and begin to decolonize the academy. Also, that some Department Heads were performing ‘settler moves to innocence’ by indicating that their departments were not responding enough to the TRC Calls to Action, that Indigenous faculty are not present in the departments, or that their ignorance of IWK is preventing them from engaging. The aim of this research project is to aid CESSPs in evaluating their programs and curricula concerning engagement around IWK, TRC Calls to Action, and climate change, and to advance CESSPs in the reconciliation process.
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