The words for what you are feeling
: articulating reconciliation in Canada from an Indigenous research paradigm

  • Ian Calliou

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis asks, “what is an Indigenous perspective of reconciliation in Canada”? Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing have been a marginalized practice in Canada. Indigenous peoples have been harmed by colonization and their knowledge practices disempowered. This thesis seeks to examine the discourse of reconciliation in Canada through the lens of Indigenous knowledge practice.

    Using and Indigenous research paradigm to challenge traditional narratives of reconciliation this thesis uses core values of relational accountability to derive a research framework. This practice centres around the concept of a research ceremony, the circular relationship between the knowledge holder and researcher, and interpretation of data through an Indigenous worldview that is cyclical between the researcher and their relationship with the world, knowledge, and the research.

    Research on reconciliation has not privileged Indigenous knowledge practices as a central feature. Indigenous knowledge in academia, although emerging into mainstream practice, has been marginalized into Native Studies departments at Canadian universities. The practice of reconciliation has been top-down and informed by western practices rather than embedded in the contextual frame.

    This thesis suggests that there are three main types of reconciliation that are linked and equally essential: social, structural, and existential. This thesis examined how connecting these three nodes created a nexus of understanding based on an Indigenous worldview.

    Reconciliation could be described as a tree, it can be a healthy tree, vibrant and resilient where its roots, branches and leaves, and sustenance are all in harmony. It can also be a sick tree, its roots embedded in colonial harm, the branches and leaves suffering visibly, and its sustenance a trickle and insufficient. This thesis uses the image of the tree to frame the knowledge and experiences of reconciliation and contemporary Indigenous life between the two concepts.

    This framework of a tree can be a useful concept for contextualizing reconciliation practice, embedding a deeper understanding of the relationship between different types of reconciliation and the need to privilege Indigenous voices in the reconciliation dialogue.
    Date of AwardMay 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorMichaelina Jakala (Supervisor) & Chris Shannahan (Supervisor)

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