Accord on Indigenous Education

Source: ACDE – Association of Canadian Deans of Education

Focus: Educators and Researchers

Summary: The Canadian Constitution Act, 1982, section 35, defines Aboriginal people as Indian, Métis, or Inuit. Indian people are either status (registered with an Indian band or community) or non-status (not registered but are members of an Indian band or community). Aboriginal treaty rights are recognized in the Constitution Act. Scholars have argued that Aboriginal knowledge and heritage are Aboriginal rights protected under the Constitution and that Aboriginal people should be able to preserve their cultures, languages, customs, and knowledges because they are part of an Aboriginal right.

This Accord uses the term Indigenous to include the distinct Canadian terms Aboriginal, First Nations, Indian, Métis, and Inuit as well as the more global context of First Peoples’ epistemologies, ways of knowing, knowledge systems, and lived experience. Indigenous is both an international and local term, reflecting the reality that issues such as the impact of colonization have both global and local implications.

Indigenous is the preferred term for the Accord on Indigenous Education; however, the terms Ab-original, First Nations, Indian, Métis, Inuit, and Indigenous are used deliberately throughout this document to reflect the diverse, complex, and evolving nature of Indigenous identities in Canada. The use of the term Indigenous focuses attention on Aboriginal education in Canada, while at the same time engaging in a movement to address global educational issues.

Establishing mechanisms and priorities for increased Indigenous educational engagement, establishing partnerships with Indigenous organizations and communities, and using educational frameworks based on Indigenous knowledge are trends that have important implications for the Association of Canadian Deans of Education (ACDE). New ways of engagement are required in order to address these trends. The time is right for a concerted and cooperative effort that creates transformational education by rejecting the “status quo,” moving beyond “closing the gap” discourse, and contributing to the well-being of Indigenous peoples and their communities. At the same time, ACDE recognizes that it has a role and responsibility to expand educators’ knowledge about and understanding of Indigenous education.