This workbook provides an invitation to non-Indigenous (especially white) people to begin some of the learning and unlearning that is a precondition for decolonizing work in ways that do not create more (uncompensated) labour for Indigenous people. This workbook also seeks to prepare those who engage with it to create more space for the complexities, tensions, discomforts, and contradictions that are inevitably involved in the practice of decolonization. It is intended for those who have some sense that decolonizing higher education is important, including those who have not yet begun this work and don’t know where to start, as well as those who have already begun the work and have become confused, frustrated, or disillusioned along the way.
Decolonization does not simply involve intellectual work, although in higher education contexts this is often the dimension that is most emphasized. It also involves affective work (which entails acknowledging, analyzing, and taking responsibility for processing our often uncomfortable, embodied and emotional responses to the tensions, conflicts, and uncertainties that arise in decolonization efforts); and relational work (which entails mending broken relationships in ways that honour the integrity of this difficult process by focus on the development of deep respect, reciprocity, trust, and consent rather than prioritizing the end or outcome in transactional ways).
For this reason, this workbook does not focus on describing the many ways that colonialism and related systems, including white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy, and ableism, operate in higher education. There are many important texts that do this work, including many of those listed in the “Additional Resources” at the end of this text. While having a deep understanding of colonialism and its complexities is an essential element of any decolonization effort, in our experience having an intellectual grasp of the harmful effects of colonization does not translate necessarily into a decolonial disposition or orientation. Thus, this text seeks to offer something different.
Download the workbook here.
[Image by Indigenous Artist Benicio Pitaguary]