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This study explored the professional knowledge and experiences of Aboriginal (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) teachers to address the urgent need to improve and promote Aboriginal education in public schools.
This research found that the Aboriginal teachers who took part in the study became teachers because they were committed to and valued education. By positively acknowledging the lives of Aboriginal people, culture and history, the Aboriginal teachers in this study enabled Aboriginal students to become “bodies that matter” (Butler, 1993).
Eager and willing to teach Aboriginal content and perspectives, Aboriginal teachers in this study wanted to share what they knew and sought each other out to learn more. They described their culturally grounded teaching practices and how these practices positively influenced both non- Aboriginal and Aboriginal students.
The Aboriginal teachers in this study emphasized that the integration of Aboriginal content and perspectives into public education must happen every day, for all students, in all subject areas.
Feeling that racism in education was typically denied, ignored and trivialized, Aboriginal teachers in this study described various ways in which they experienced racism. They reported a disregard for their qualifications and capabilities, and for Aboriginal content and perspectives; a lowering of expectations of Aboriginal students; and a discounting of the effects of colonization and oppression on Aboriginal people.
Aboriginal teachers in the present study interpreted the idea of who is an ally of Aboriginal teachers and Aboriginal education broadly, including themselves, their families and communities, in addition to non-Aboriginal colleagues, as potential allies. They identified non-Aboriginal colleagues who were allies as being genuine, honest and trustworthy; good listeners; and persons who remained positive and open-minded despite facing many challenges in education.
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