A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself.
“It’s full! No more will go in!” the professor blurted.
“This is you,” the master replied. “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
– Suler (2013)
Two processes are guiding Indigenization in post-secondary institutions:
- Since the 1990s, the provincial government has implemented frameworks and action plans [PDF] to increase Indigenous student success in public post-secondary institutions.
- Indigenous voice and activism in post-secondary institutions have supported the development of principles and protocols, such as the Universities Canada Principles on Indigenous Education.
These processes have become more prominent since the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report and the 94 Calls to Action. Many of these processes and principles express the need for teachers and educators to unlearn and relearn, as Indigenous history, culture, and current realities are basically unknown and are generally not “seen” (Bopp, Brown & Robb, 2017). It is hard to come to an understanding if you are not willing to “empty your cup” and accept new ways of engaging and relationship building.
Indigenization requires that equitable space for Indigenous knowledges and perspectives be held and explored in the classroom. Many institutions have defined Indigenization on the basis of current, authentic relationships, and there are nuances and different approaches to Indigenization. What a teacher needs to be mindful of is that Indigenizing one’s practice is an emotional journey as well as an intellectual examination of how systems of knowledge can complement and coexist in any field of study.
- BC government action plan: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/post-secondary-education/aboriginal-education-training/aboriginal_action_plan.pdf ↵
- Universities Canada Principles on Indigenous Education: https://www.univcan.ca/media-room/media-releases/universities-canada-principles-on-indigenous-education/ ↵