More Than a Checklist: Meaningful Indigenous Inclusion in Higher Education

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

More Than a Checklist: Meaningful Indigenous Inclusion in Higher Education


  • Michelle Pidgeon Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, Canada


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Abstract:  Since the 1970s there has been increased focus by institutions, government, and Indigenous nations on improving Aboriginal peoples participation and success in Canadian higher education; however disparity continues to be evident in national statistics of educational attainment, social determinants of health, and socio-economic status of Aboriginal compared to non-Aboriginal Canadians. For instance, post-secondary attainment for Aboriginal peoples is still only 8% compared to 20% of the rest of Canada (Statistics Canada, 2008, 2013). A challenge within higher education has been creating the space within predominately Euro-Western defined and ascribed structures, academic disciplines, policies, and practices to create meaningful spaces for Indigenous peoples. Indigenization is a movement centering Indigenous knowledges and ways of being within the academy, in essence transforming institutional initiatives, such as policy, curricular and co-curricular programs, and practices to support Indigenous success and empowerment. Drawing on research projects that span the last 10 years, this article celebrates the pockets of success within institutions and identifies areas of challenge to Indigenization that moves away from the tokenized checklist response, that merely tolerates Indigenous knowledge(s), to one where Indigenous knowledge(s) are embraced as part of the institutional fabric.

Keywords:  Aboriginal peoples, Canada; indigenous higher education; indigenization; post-secondary education; recruitment; retention

Published:   23 February 2016


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v4i1.436


© Michelle E. Pidgeon. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.