Despite the wide diversity of Indigenous peoples around the world, contemporary Indigenous cultures and communities share many perspectives, experiences, concerns, and aspirations. In this course, students examine global issues from the perspectives of Indigenous peoples, investigating topics such as identity, social justice, human rights, spirituality, resilience, and advocacy for change. Students draw on the depth and diversity of Indigenous cultures, traditions, and knowledge to consider how Indigenous communities around the world persevere despite current global political, social, and economic challenges.
Students learn about the threats to cultural survival posed by trends such as the loss of land as an economic base, environmental decline, lack of sovereignty/self-governance, the legacy of colonialism, globalization, language loss, and gender-based discrimination facing Indigenous women and girls. By encouraging students to examine the political, economic, and social context for a variety of interactions between Indigenous and non- Indigenous populations in several regions of the world, this course helps students build knowledge and skills that prepare them for meaningful participation in a globalized society.
As students make connections between contemporary global issues and cultural survival, they learn that all cultures benefit when Indigenous values, rights, and aspirations are respected. Students not only explore the impact of global trends on Indigenous lives and lived experiences but they also discover ways in which Indigenous knowledge and leadership can support efforts to address issues affecting all peoples. Students may investigate the benefits of incorporating Indigenous perspectives into resource management, for example, or of employing Indigenous leadership approaches within organizational structures. By exploring the values reflected in Indigenous concepts such as the two-eyed seeing model and planning for future generations – and by investigating how these values can guide approaches to the complex issues facing nations and peoples around the world – students extend their understanding of the contributions that Indigenous cultures make, and the value they add, to the global community. They also develop their awareness of the critical importance of building relationships based on truth and mutual respect.
This course has four strands. Strand A, Political Inquiry and Skill Development, is followed by three content strands, which are organized thematically. The four strands are as follows:
Students learn how to use the political inquiry process and the concepts of political thinking to guide their investigations of events, developments, issues, and ideas. Students constantly apply the skills and approaches included in strand A as they work to achieve the expectations in the content strands.
Students develop an understanding and appreciation of the global diversity of Indigenous peoples, and of the factors influencing how Indigenous identities are defined, affirmed, or denied. By exploring the deep connections between Indigenous peoples and the land, students learn to acknowledge the consequences of displacing Indigenous communities from their traditional territories. Students also examine the role of Indigenous knowledge and oral traditions in sustaining Indigenous cultures and beliefs.
Students investigate a variety of contemporary economic, social, technological, and political trends to determine how they are related to the cultural survival of Indigenous peoples around the world. Students explore issues related to human rights, social justice, and self-determination. They analyse the balance of power in a variety of interactions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups to deepen their understanding of the connections between political power and cultural survival, as well as the key role of sovereignty/self-governance in sustaining Indigenous cultures.
Students learn about the ways in which the rights of Indigenous peoples around the world are defined, recognized, or obstructed in the judicial, political, and social arenas. They examine the roles and responsibilities of international/regional legal bodies, and of national governments and judiciaries, in implementing measures to uphold Indigenous rights. Students also develop an understanding of the influence of education, social action, and leadership on the promotion of Indigenous rights, aspirations, and perspectives in a global context.
Educators are encouraged to refer to the general discussion of the research and inquiry process that appears in the Curriculum Context section Research and Inquiry: A Shared Process for necessary information relating to all Indigenous studies courses. What follows below is a brief discussion of the political inquiry process, and the concepts of political thinking, in the context of the present course. For further information on these topics, teachers may wish to consult The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 11 and 12: Canadian and World Studies, 2015, p. 510.
In this course, students use the political inquiry process to investigate global issues from the perspectives of Indigenous peoples; to gather, analyse, assess, and evaluate evidence from a wide variety of sources, including Indigenous knowledge sources; to make informed judgements and reach supportable conclusions; and to communicate those judgements and conclusions effectively.
As in all courses that consider events, developments, and issues from a political perspective, it is crucial that students not simply learn various facts but that they develop the ability to think and to process content in ways that are most appropriate to the material. To that end, this course focuses on developing students’ ability to apply the following concepts of political thinking:
In the context of the present course, the concept of political significance requires students to determine the importance, in terms of their relevance for Indigenous peoples, of government policies; political or social issues, events, or developments; and the civic actions of individuals and groups. When students apply the concept of objectives and results, they determine the factors that lead or have led to events, policies, decisions, and/or plans of action relating to Indigenous peoples. The concept also requires students to analyse the range of effects that civic and political actions, government policies and decisions, and responses to civic issues may have for Indigenous individuals and communities. The concept of stability and change requires students to analyse how and why political institutions and government policies change over time or remain the same with respect to such issues as Indigenous rights, identity, governance, and land claims. Students determine how political structures and decisions contribute to stability and change within various Indigenous communities locally, nationally, and/or globally. Finally, the concept of political perspective requires students to analyse the beliefs and values that motivate Indigenous aspirations and shape Indigenous communities around the world. Students analyse how these beliefs and values, as well as political ideologies, can affect perspectives on or responses to civic issues. Students also develop their awareness of how stakeholder groups with dominant perspectives can influence the policies and platforms of political parties and political decisions that directly affect Indigenous peoples.
It is important to note that, although students use political thinking to guide and structure the inquiry process in this course, the topics they investigate are not only political but also economic, social, and cultural. Any study of Indigenous perspectives and realities must acknowledge the interconnected nature of the issues of greatest significance to Indigenous peoples across the globe. When any of the thousands of Indigenous communities around the world advocate for self-identification, historical continuity, recognition of the fundamental importance of connection to traditional territories, or distinct governance systems, languages, and ways of knowing, their goals and actions are evidently, but not exclusively, political. The assertion of the right to sovereignty/self-governance also involves the wish to have autonomy in economic decision making and to develop social institutions that reflect Indigenous beliefs and values. Similarly, when Indigenous leaders approach global issues such as environmental protection by using strategies that reflect Indigenous knowledge, their political actions are socially and culturally motivated.