Decolonizing Education
223 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Sep 2013
Release Date:04 Apr 2017
Release Date:31 Jan 2019

Decolonizing Education

Nourishing the Learning Spirit

UBC Press, Purich Publishing

Drawing on treaties, international law, the work of other Indigenous scholars, and especially personal experiences, Marie Battiste documents the nature of Eurocentric models of education, and their devastating impacts on Indigenous knowledge. Chronicling the negative consequences of forced assimilation and the failure of current educational policies to bolster the social and economic conditions of Aboriginal populations, Battiste proposes a new model of education. She argues that the preservation of Aboriginal knowledge is an Aboriginal right and a right preserved by the many treaties with First Nations.

Current educational policies must undergo substantive reform. Central to this process is the rejection of the racism inherent to colonial systems of education, and the repositioning of Indigenous humanities, sciences, and languages as vital fields of knowledge. Battiste suggests the urgency for this reform lies in the social, technological, and economic challenges facing society today, and the need for a revitalized knowledge system which incorporates both Indigenous and Eurocentric thinking. The new model she advocates is based on her experiences growing up in a Mi’kmaw community, and the decades she has spent as a teacher, activist, and university scholar.

Drawing on treaties, international law, the work of other Indigenous scholars, and especially personal experiences, Marie Battiste documents the nature of Eurocentric models of education, and their devastating impacts on Indigenous knowledge.


  • 2014, Shortlisted - University of Regina Arts and Luther Award for Scholarly Writing, Saskatchewan Book Awards
  • 2014, Shortlisted - Rasmussen, Rasmussen & Charowsky Aboriginal Peoples’ Writing Award, Saskatchewan Book Awards
With this book, Battiste helps us to see the ways that this imperialist approach to education continues today in the Canadian educational system. … what I am most grateful for from this work is the vision Battiste lays out for the transformation of how we think about knowledge and learning in this country. It is this part of her work in particular that makes this a relevant read for any Canadian, not solely educators. Tamara Shantz, Intotemak, Vol. 43, No. 1
Decolonizing Education provides an opportunity for educators, researchers, students, and parents alike to think about how it is they envision a well-rounded, just, and balanced curriculum. Mandy Krahn, Alberta Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 60, No. 3
Marie Battiste gives us a book that is comprehensive in its scope, with 10 chapters of tightly written prose extensively referenced and organized around relevant research. The book will be a welcome addition to all those who seek to provide the best education we can for all our learners. Wally Penetito, AlterNative Vol. 11, No. 1
Battiste’s ‘storytelling manner’ provides a textured analysis and discussion of the multilayered and multipronged components embodied within the discourse on Indigenous education and the need to decolonize the education system in its entirety … a must-read for all administrators and educators, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, especially those who are involved in educational policy. Jennifer Brant, Brock Education Journal Vol. 23, No. 2
Battiste has carefully crafted her book in a manner that goes from the deeply personal to the undeniably political in a seamless fashion that most writers strive to accomplish, but few succeed. … with Battiste’s leadership and inspiration, we can become catalysts for change, rather than harbingers of history. The academy remains indebted to scholars like Dr. Battiste, who has the wisdom and political acumen to ‘show us the way’. Tim Claypool, Education Matters, Vol. 3, Issue 1

Marie Battiste, Professor of Educational Foundations, founder and first Academic Director, Aboriginal Education Research Centre, University of Saskatchewan, is a Mi’kmaw scholar, knowledge keeper, and educator from Potlotek First Nation, Nova Scotia. Marie earned degrees from the University of Maine (B.S.), Harvard (Ed.M.), and Stanford (Ed.D.). She has also received honorary degrees from the University of Maine at Farmington, St. Mary’s University, and Thompson Rivers University. A Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada, she has also received the Distinguished Academic Award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation Award in Education, the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal, the 125th Year Queen’s Award for Service to the Community, the Distinguished Researcher Award from the University of Saskatchewan, and Eagle Feathers from the Mi’kmaq Grand Council and Eskasoni community.

She edited two highly influential books from UBC Press, texts that continue to be taught nationally and internationally: First Nations Education: The Circle Unfolds (1995) and Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision (2000). She has coauthored, with J. Youngblood Henderson, Protecting Indigenous Knowledge: A Global Challenge (Purich Publishing 2000), identifying threats to Indigenous knowledge from global patenting and intellectual property regimes while affirming the linguistic and land-based grounds of resistance to paternalism and predation. A prolific writer and speaker, she has developed an international profile for advancing the decolonization of education, the development of Indigenous voice and vision, antiracist education as violence prevention, and the institutionalization of the Indigenous humanities, science, and knowledge.

Foreword / Rita Bouvier

1 Introduction

2 The Legacy of Forced Assimilative Education for Indigenous Peoples

3 Mi’kmaw Education: Roots and Routes

4 Creating the Indigenous Renaissance

5 Animating Ethical Trans-Systemic Education Systems

6 Confronting and Eliminating Racism

7 Respecting Aboriginal Languages in Education Systems

8 Displacing Cognitive Imperialism

9 Recommendations for Constitutional Reconciliation of Education

10 Possibilities of Educational Transformations



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