Too See and Be Seen: Indigenous Theories of Knowledge of Racism and Its Mediation - The Experience of Nehiyaw/Cree Youth and Their Community

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Rousell, Davina




Racism is a social construct that has had significant and negative impacts on Indigenous peoples across Canada. These effects are evident in the Indigenous and non- Indigenous health, education, and income gaps (Bourassa, McKay-McNabb & Hampton, 2004; King & Gracey, 2009; King, Smith, & Gracey, 2009; Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1996). The study of racial prejudice and its mediation are informed by Western theories of knowledge so strongly that other ways of knowing such as Indigenous theories of knowledge are marginalized. How might the inclusion of Indigenous theories and knowledge impact experiences of racism? This research study examines this question. It interweaves a postcolonial theoretical framework and Indigenous knowledge with Grounded Theory Methodologies and Indigenous Methodologies to examine a cohort of 21 Indigenous students' lived experience with a school program, the Photography Class, designed to mediate students' experience of racism. This program was of particular interest because it utilized a combination of oral teachings and photography to provide students with a more accurate, positive, and more complete understanding of what it means to be Nehiyaw/Cree and to mediate racist narratives circulated through mainstream media. This study documents how the Nehiyaw/Cree practice termed Kisewatotatowin/awakening Kiskisohkemowin/remembering was mobilized through the Photography Class. Specifically, the research findings illustrate how Canada's colonial legacy of racism and its learned practice of hate can be redressed by: (1) awakening and reminding the students of their inherent love for themselves, their family, community, and all beings (human and non-human) and (2) fostering space for the students to create a more accurate, positive, and complete narrative about who they are. The data analysis presented from those findings contribute to the study of racial prejudice through the documentation of a mediation process for racism grounded in Indigenous theories of knowledge, Nehiyaw/Cree in particular. More important, it provides insight into what constitutes racism from an Nehiyaw/Cree worldview and how an integration of Indigenous knowledge and practices extend Western theories of racial prejudice and its mediation.


Ethnic and Racial Studies




Carleton University

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