EP23: Back to the Land: Indigenous Schooling in a Colonial State (ft. Kyla LeSage & Leanne Betasamosake Simpson)

Canada is a colonial and genocidal state, past and present. The horrifying news of the discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School is evidence of that, as is ongoing inaction and state resistance to reconciliation. And the university shares some blame. In this episode, we offer a brief history of residential schools and explore how Indigenous education can offer a way towards healing.

  • First (@9:21), Kyla LeSage works at Dechinta Bush University in the Northwest Territories, where she once studied after attending the University of British Columbia. Dechinta’s pedagogy is land-based and Indigenous-led. Kyla takes us through the differences between settler pedagogy at UBC and Indigenous pedagogy at Dechinta — and the struggle to break out of the rubric.
  • Then (@39:25), Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer and artist. She holds a PhD from the University of Manitoba and teaches at Dechinta. She explains how Dechinta operates and details the values, traditions, cultural practices, and pedagogy of the school, pointing out that the university’s success is measured “by the number of days our staff, faculty, and students spend on the land.”


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Darts and Letters is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer this week is Jay Cockburn and our managing producer is Marc Apollonio. Our research assistants this areAddye Susnick and David Moscrop, and our lead research assistant this week was Franklynn Bartol. We also had academic advising from Dr. Marc Spooner. Our theme song was created by Mike Barber. Our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop.

This episode received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, as part of a project looking at higher education policy in Canada. The lead academic advisor is Dr. Marc Spooner at the University of Regina and Franklynn Bartol is the research assistant.

Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. It is also produced in Vancouver, BC, which is on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

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