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Becoming a Golden Hawk means more than just cheering on our (really good) varsity teams – it means being a student who cares about your community, who works hard in the classroom, and who takes advantage of all the learning opportunities that can happen outside the classroom, too.

The Decolonizing Education Certificate is for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who want to develop their capacity to understand Indigenous perspectives in the history of colonization to contemporary realities in Canada. 

This certificate has been developed to build capacity among educators and anyone interested in responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's (TRC) calls for action in a meaningful way. This certificate covers an array of topics from pre-contact to colonial contact. The topics will help people:

  • Understand and appreciate Indigenous perspectives in decolonizing education (first four modules).
  • Understand one's position in solidarity with Indigenous peoples (last four modules).

Participants can expect to receive accurate and authentic knowledge, information and experience Indigegogy while learning about what anti-colonial, structural, and decolonizing means. Participants will gain valuable knowledge to help integrate Indigenous perspectives into their work/teaching and will also have invaluable learning experiences.

The instructors are a combination of Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars who work in solidarity with Indigenous peoples. These instructors have selected modules based on their expertise and experience in the topic areas. Each instructor’s approach is enriched by his or her knowledge, gifts and experiences to the teaching and learning circle.

Who Will Benefit From this Training?

These transformative learning modules are for anyone wanting to receive authentic. People who have not been exposed to Indigenous studies will benefit from the information, pedagogical approaches and shared experiences offered in each module. If you have little to no exposure to Indigenous knowledge, history or Indigenous studies, this certificate is for you. If you are someone who wants to better understand and teach about Canada and Indigenous peoples, this certificate is for you. If you want to deepen your lens and take a journey that will transform how you teach, practice and live, this training is for you.


The modules are offered over a two-year period, but you do not need to take the modules in order from the beginning. You can sign up for any module at any time. We encourage you to sign up early. Space is limited because our sessions offer quality learning experiences versus quantity.

“It is precisely because education was the primary tool of oppression of Aboriginal people, and miseducation of all Canadians, that we have concluded that education holds the key to reconciliation.”

Justice Murray Sinclair, TRC Calls to Action in Education poster, 2015

Module 1: Introduction to Indigenous Perspectives and Knowledge: Cultural History and Colonial History

  • Dates: Sept. 19 and 20, 2019
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Location: Circle Room, 120 Duke St., Kitchener
  • Facilitator: Kathy Absolon King, MSW, PhD; director for the Centre for Indigegogy; associate professor, MSW Indigenous Field of Study

This module begins with cultural history and provides an overview of colonial history. It begins to establish the context of contact and colonization and introduces cultural learning protocols, land protocols and Indigegogy.

Kathy offers a unique and wholistic perspective grounded in her Anishinaabe teachings and traditions.

Learning Goals

Participants will:

  • Experience and learn about Indigenous protocols in teaching and learning.
  • Be introduced to elements of cultural teachings in circle.
  • Explore and examine an overview of colonial history.
  • Have an experiential learning experience.


Participants will leave with:

  • An understanding of what cultural history means.
  • A transformative learning experience about decolonization.
  • More knowledge, tools and resources to utilize.
  • A network of people with common learning goals.
  • Wanting to learn more.

Module 2: Indigenous Perspectives and Knowledge: Policy, Land and Governance

  • Dates: Oct. 25 and 26, 2019
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Location: Circle Room, 120 Duke St., Kitchener
  • Facilitator: Darren Thomas, MA, PhD (ABD), Community Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University

This module covers issues related to governance, policy and land. It may cover topics such as treaties, the Indian Act, reserves, federal and provincial governance jurisdictions, and the United Nations on the Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples.

Darren's Haudensaunee roots ground this session along with his treaty and wampum belts knowledge.

Module 3: Indigenous Perspectives and Knowledge: Social Control Policies

  • Dates: Nov. 23 and 24, 2019
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Location: Circle Room, 120 Duke St., Kitchener
  • Facilitator: Raven Sinclair, associate professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Regina

Module three offers a critical Indigenous perspective related to the policies of social control of Indigenous peoples in the late 1800 to 1900s. It may cover topics such as child welfare, foster care, residential schools, criminal justice and intergenerational trauma.

This module begins with cultural history and provides an overview of colonial history. It continues to deepen one's understanding of specific social policies, their impacts and challenges.

Raven brings her vast experience in Indigenous child welfare and her experiences to these sessions. She is a storyteller who blends teaching about social policy with storytelling.

Learning Goals

Participants will:

  • Examine policy development in Canada from confederation.
  • Critically analyze key social, political and economic policies.
  • Examine the impact of key policies on Indigenous life.
  • Explore residential school and child welfare outcomes
  • Learn how to process and integrate the emotionally and psychologically challenging insights that come with learning about Indigenous social policies.


Participants will leave with:

  • An understanding of colonial social policy development in Canada.
  • Be able to apply critical analysis to historical and contemporary Indigenous policies.
  • Knowledgeable about how policies affect social, political and economic life.
  • An understanding of strategies advocating for or against Indigenous policies.
  • Greater insight into the contemporary social, political and economic terrain that confronts Indigenous people and communities.

Module 4: Indigenous Perspectives and Knowledge: Resistance and Healing; Anti-Colonialism

  • Dates: Jan. 16 and 17, 2020
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Location: Circle Room, 120 Duke St., Kitchener
  • Facilitator: Bonnie Freeman, assistant professor, Faculty of Social Work, McMaster University

This module presents the actions of Indigenous peoples towards truth telling, cultural activism and healing movements. The module will also cover national reports, such as Missing and Murder Indigenous Women, Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, as well social activism towards changing policies. Participants will gain understanding in decolonization, alliance building and reconciliation through the examination of resistance and solidarity movements such as Idle No More, Sisters In Spirit and #NoDAPL.

Bonnie offers her community-based experiences in working with youth and within community.

Module 5: Positionality in Relations with Indigenous People: Solidarity

  • Dates: Feb. 12 and 13, 2020
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Location: Circle Room, 120 Duke St., Kitchener
  • Facilitator: Ben Carniol, scholar-in-residence, Faculty of Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University

Module 5 begins to draw attention to one’s positionality in relationship with Indigenous people.  It examines structural and critical change; experiences of working with Indigenous people and combating institutional racism toward change.

Ben generates a space where participants can deeply explore their positionality. He brings a depth of life and teaching experience to the circle process.

Learning Goals

As participants, you will leave with:

  • Experience Indigenous protocols for examining treaty relations, privilege, and a wholistic sense of our identity.
  • Respect cultural teachings in a circle process that connects us to land and treaties.
  • Explore your position (individual, racial, cultural, national, professional, spiritual) in colonial history.
  • Have an experiential learning experience about your role in “truth” and “reconciliation."


Participants will leave with:

  • An increased understanding of the relation between your identity and colonization
  • A transformative and participatory learning experience about your role in fostering “truth” on the way toward “reconciliation”
  • More knowledge, tools and resources to utilize in your community, professional, and land relations
  • A network of people with common learning goals and visions for our future
  • A desire to continue learning about your position in the work of decolonizing Canada​

Module 6: Race, Power, Privilege: Taking a Critical Gaze

  • Dates: March 27 and 28, 2020
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Location: Circle Room, 120 Duke St., Kitchener
  • Facilitator: 

This workshop will focus on understanding the dynamics of settler colonialism with a focus on race, power and privilege. Syrus and Giselle have been engaged in Black and Indigenous solidarity work together for the past 17 years. Their focus has been on community organizing around abolishing the Prison Industrial Complex. More recently they have co-authored a book chapter on Indigenous and Black solidarity in the forthcoming book produced by Black Lives Matter entitled: We Will Win.

Participants will consider Indigenous perspectives/knowledge on land, colonialism, and contemporary relational issues in solidarity with Black communities.

Syrus is a Vanier Scholar, a visual artist, community activist, researcher, youth advocate, and educator. For 12 years, he was the coordinator for the Art Gallery of Ontario Youth Program. Syrus is currently a facilitator/designer for the Cultural Leaders Lab (Toronto Arts Council and The Banff Centre). He is the inaugural artist-in-residence for Daniels Spectrum (2016/17). Syrus is also a core-team member of Black Lives Matter Toronto.

Giselle is the program coordinator at the Centre of Indigegogy. She is a mixed race, Metis activist, community organizer, and educator. Giselle is currently doing her PhD in Social Work in the Indigenous Field of Study at Laurier.

Module 7: Educating for Change: Critical Reflections and Change

  • Dates: April 23 and 24, 2020
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Location: Circle Room, 120 Duke St., Kitchener
  • Facilitator: Laura Mastronardi, MSW, PhD (ABD), lecturer, Faculty of Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University

Module 7 brings about the culmination of the previous modules with an encounter and sharing of one’s teaching and learning as non-Indigenous educators. Discussions may include ones role in decolonizing the academy. Circle process will facilitate reflexive teaching and learning.

Learning Goals

Participants will:

  • Experience a collaborative circle process.
  • Explore and share their growth reflections with each other.
  • Generate discussions from their experiences and points of change.
  • Engage with learn from each other’s lessons, reflections and practices.


As participants, you will leave with:

  • A richer, deeper, insightful experience.
  • A more grounded understanding of your own journey.
  • Distinct teachings and sharing’s from one another.
  • Resources, connections, networks and knowledge.

Module 8: Moving Forward: Creating an Action Plan

  • Dates: May 27 and 28, 2020
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Location: Circle Room, 120 Duke St., Kitchener
  • Facilitators: Kathy Absolon King, MSW, PhD; director for the Centre for Indigegogy; associate professor, MSW Indigenous Field of Study

In this module participants will have an opportunity to revisit the earlier modules. Kathy will review where we’ve all been and the journey of decolonizing within. Participants will be guided to explore the journey of decolonizing within oneself and what this has meant for work and life. The circle process will guide this transformative module accompanied by cultural protocols.

Participants will have an opportunity to further explore what the process of decolonizing means to them, how the journey has been, what were the turning points and explore what has transformed along the way. We will support each other to share and deepen our learning and capacity to discuss specific experiences related to decolonizing. This particular module is a bit of a recap for the purpose of building purpose moving forward.

Kathy brings her years of experience in decolonizing work to this valuable teaching and learning space.

Module 9: Learning from Land: Decolonizing and Naturalizing Relations

  • Dates: June 1 and 2, 2020
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Location: TBD, Kitchener, ON
  • Facilitator: Timothy B. Leduc, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University 

This two-day workshop will help participants learn about their individual, familial, cultural, nation, and professional position from the lands, waters, and climate they live and work within. A series of four half-day teachings will be conducted in relation to different places that bring to our attention particular land, being and ancestral relations, and these will be engaged for particular teachings about the history of colonial relations, human responsibilities in creation, and how to hold ourselves in times of climatic changes. We will engage these places in relation to stories from the Indigenous nations of the waters/land we are on (e.g. Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Wendat) and wampum treaties like the Two Row, Dish-with-One-Spoon, and Seven Nations/Fires. There is an emphasis on participatory activities that asks participants to draw insights from the land/water/climate-based teachings, and to work with their ancestral origins, stories and practices in relation to what these places teach. These sessions are centred around the practice of ‘truth-telling’ for settlers as the basis for considering different ways of “naturalizing” our ways of relating with Indigenous people and the land/water we live within, and as such will continually ask participants to consider what their learning means for our ways of living and working.

Cancellation and Refund Information

Wilfrid Laurier University reserves the right to cancel a course in which there is insufficient enrolment. In the event of a cancellation, students will be informed and all fees will be refunded.

If for some reason you are unable to start or complete your program, we would be happy to defer your registration for our next Educators' Certificate program, or transfer your registration to another person (e.g. coworker, friend). If a refund is requested, the refund amount will follow the schedule below:

  • Up to 10 days before start of each module: full refund minus a $25 admin fee and applicable credit card charges.
  • One to nine days before start of each module: 50% refund and applicable credit card charges.

Note that no refund of any sort will be given if the university is closed for any reason during your course.

What our grads are saying

"Participating in the decolonizing education certificate modules has been an incredibly meaningful experience on numerous levels: in terms of knowledge, community and spiritual development.

It introduced me to a new approach to social justice education that blends history, ceremony, culture, and contemporary social and critical analysis. Each module effectively builds on the previous one, connecting the many intersectional and intergenerational issues that are essential knowledge for decolonization, and exposing participants to a range of perspectives with a different instructor for each module.

I highly recommend it for anyone serious about responding to the TRC calls to action from an educational perspective."

Catherine Vanner,
Independent Education Researcher

"I’ve been reflecting a lot on my experiences so far in the Decolonizing Education Certificate; one way I’ve explained it recently is that, while I’ve learned a lot from books, and I know a lot of facts, I’m in a place now where I am ready to learn from people.

At the Centre for Indigegogy we learn from Indigenous scholars and non-Indigenous allies about culturally-appropriate engagement, about Indigenous pedagogy, about ourselves, and about each other. It has been a gift to participate in the circle so far, and I can’t wait for the next modules.

Maybe you - like me - identify as a settler, and wonder what you should be doing about decolonization and how you should be doing it; know that this is a space for you to learn: about this land, about its people, and about yourself."

Jacqueline Briggs
PhD Candidate
Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies
University of Toronto

Contact Us:

Giselle Dias, MSW, Program Coordinator

Office Location: 120 Duke St., Kitchener

Kathy Absolon-King, MSW, PhD, Director of Centre for Indigegogy



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Keep in touch

Want to know the latest happenings at the Centre for Indigegogy?

Ask us to add you to our mailing list at


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