This presentation will bring focus on the nehiyaw wisdom concept of wâhkôhtowin (kinship) as a major source of inspiration in helping educators unlearn colonial worldview and transform their relationships to knowledge and knowing.
Dwayne Donald is a descendent of the amiskwaciwiyiniwak (Beaver Hills Cree) and works as a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He is Canada Research Chair in Reimagining Teacher Education with Indigenous Wisdom Traditions, and his work focuses on ways in which Indigenous wisdom traditions can expand and enhance understanding of curriculum and pedagogy.
—Dr Dwayne Donald, University of Alberta
I have come to see this river valley walk as the most important contribution that I can make to the complex task of repairing Indigenous-Canadian relations and renewing them on more ethical terms. Indigenous-Canadian relations will not be repaired and renewed by an educational commitment to provide students with more information about Indigenous peoples. The holistic complexity of human perception is disregarded when teaching and learning is reduced to a simple telling of information about certain selected topics of interest. To make progress on these divisive issues, educators must be willing to experiment with curricular and pedagogical approaches that provoke their students to engage in such topics in qualitatively different ways. I am not suggesting that all our problems will be solved if everyone walks beside a river and allows themselves to be inspired by the wâhkôhtowin imagination. However, I do believe that walking is a fundamental way that human beings perceive the world and come to story their place in it. Wisdom teachings around the world make this connection consistently clear. As I see it, teaching and learning theories that dominate formal education have left out this important insight. The intimate connections between movement and knowing need to be taken seriously if we wish to reconceptualize human life and living. Walking and the wâhkôhtowin imagination can help us re-story ourselves—individually and collectively—as real human beings bent-over-holding-hands-in-reciprocity-with-all-our-relations.