Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Aboriginal Education and Anti-Racist Education: Building Alliances across Cultural and Racial Identity

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Aboriginal Education and Anti-Racist Education: Building Alliances across Cultural and Racial Identity

Article excerpt

A critical race analysis could provide both Aboriginal students and their university student advisors with knowledge to understand and potentially challenge the effects and processes of racialization that have historically, legally, and politically divided Aboriginal communities and families. Coalition and alliances can be made within and across the diversity within Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples' lives through a common understanding and commitment to anti-racist education. A critical anti-racist education could provide a foundation to forge alliances between diverse Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities in a common search for social justice in education.

Key words: coalition, alliance, social justice, racialization

Une analyse critique de la race pourrait fournir aux etudiants autochtones et a leurs conseillers universitaires des connaissances qui leur permettraient de comprendre et peut-etre de remettre en question les effets et les processus de racialisation qui, a travers l'histoire et sur les plans juridique et politique, ont divise les communautes et les familles autochtones. Des coalitions et des alliances peuvent etre formees au sein des peuples autochtones et non autochtones grace a une comprehension et a une promotion communes de l'education antiraciste. Une education antiraciste faisant place a l'analyse critique pourrait fournir une base pour la formation d'alliances entre les communautes autochtones et non autochtones dans un souci commun de justice sociale dans le domaine de l'education.

Mots cles : coalition, alliance, justice sociale, racialisation

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Recently I was invited to talk with university student advisors about how to think and respond to conflict among Aboriginal university students. These advisors described the basis of the conflict as dealing with issues of "authenticity" and "belonging"; in other words, who is a "real" Indian and what does it mean to be a "real" Indian. As a child of a Metis/Cree father who spoke Cree and Mitchif (1) and a Treaty 6, Creespeaking mother living in a white settler colonial nation, I too am personally familiar with such identity politics and have had a professsional interest in understanding them (St. Denis, 2002, 2004). These identity politics are rooted in our colonial history and Aboriginal students are, in part, living out a long-established, politically charged script of who belongs and what it means to belong to an Aboriginal community (Brayboy, 2000; King, 2003; Wieder & Pratt, 1990).

There are several ways to interpret conflicts resulting from these identity politics. A critical race analysis can help educators understand these identity politics as both the effects of colonialism as well as effects of some of the contradictions that arise in the context of the movement towards cultural revitalization. Ironically, cultural revitalization can be seen to unwittingly encourage a form of cultural fundamentalism that leads to an informal but nonetheless daunting cultural hierarchy that can encourage notions of authenticity among Aboriginal people.

I believe that Aboriginal students engaged in conflict and identity politics would benefit from developing a critical race analysis to provide both Aboriginal students and their advisors with knowledge to understand and potentially challenge the effects and processes of racialization that have historically, legally, and politically divided Aboriginal communities and families. Furthermore, a familiarity with a critical race analysis may even encourage productive alliances across the diverse subjectivities of Aboriginal students, and between Aboriginal students and their student advisors and other educators wanting to provide support to Aboriginal students.

In this article, I briefly discuss the concepts of identity and identity politics. This part of the article provides definitions of race and racialization, including a discussion of how and why race matters. …

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