Critical Commentary: Canadian Educational Systems as Structures of Indigenous Oppression

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I was inspired to write the topic of my critical commentary through Episodes 1 and 4 of Sasha Reid’s Podcasts titled Sociology of Indigenous People (2021a; 2021b). In Episode 1, Reid (2021a) gave a brief review of Indigenous history in Canada and touched on topics such as the Indian Act and Residential Schools. Further, Reid asked multiple true or false questions testing students understanding of Indigenous people and discussed her previous classes misconceptions (Reid, 2021a). In Episode 4, Reid delved into the relationship between education and Indigenous people and education as a significant determinant of health (Reid, 2021b). Reid furthered the discussion with the concept of Indigenizing education to combat the negative consequences of a Eurocentric curriculum that stereotypes and misrepresents Indigenous people (Reid, 2021b). The four topics from the lectures I discussed above; the Indian Act, Residential Schools, widespread misconceptions around Indigenous peoples and Eurocentric education, demonstrate Canada’s transition from explicit to implicit oppressive tactics on Indigenous peoples. I believe Canada’s educational system, besides being a major health determinant for Indigenous people, is also working to further the cycle of racism. In the late 1800s to 1900s, Canada used a combination of overtly racist policies and practices including the Indian Act and Residential Schools along with widespread negative stereotypes to create nationwide prejudice against Indigenous People (Reid, 2021a). The stereotypes justified the Canadian government’s control and domination over Indigenous people. Now, I argue Canada uses public education to produce both negative stereotypes about and structural subordination over Indigenous peoples. These topics introduced the question: to what extent is Canadian public education used as a structure of oppression and domination over Indigenous people? To better understand this, I will examine biases within the development and content of the curriculum and how this engenders the cycle of racism. The purpose of this examination is to expand the readers’ knowledge regarding education as a prominent and necessary tactic in the government’s continued racist perspective on Indigenous people and to make more complete, my understandings of Episode 4.
King, A. (2021). Critical Commentary: Canadian Educational Systems as Structures of Indigenous Oppression (Unpublished undergraduate paper). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.