Nandogikendan is a word in Anishinaabemowin that means “to seek to learn”. This website was designed to help settlers and/or their descendants learn about two important aspects of their history and of the national identities that have been overlooked so far in the Canadian school system: treaties and settler colonialism.
I am an educator living in Toronto, the traditional territory of the Anishinaabek, Wendat, and Haudenosaunee Confederacy nations. I am originally from Falconbridge, a small mining town in Robinson Huron treaty territory near Sudbury. My ancestors are French, Wendat, Algonquin, and Wabanaki. I am a 12th generation descendant of Madockawando, the Penobscot leader who negotiated treaties on the East Coast with British settlers at the time of contact. I am also a 13th generation descendant of the first French settlers who built the colony that became Quebec. From the very beginning, settlers on Turtle Island either violated the treaty agreements that allowed them to live here, or they encroached on Indigenous territories without permission.
In 1972, the National Indian Brotherhood published Indian Control of Indian Education to “be used as a basis for future common action in the area of education.” In this document the Brotherhood set requirements for all students “to learn about the history, customs and culture of this country’s original inhabitants and citizens” and to learn that happiness comes from personal pride, an understanding of “one’s fellowmen”, and the ability to live in harmony with the natural world:
“Living in harmony with nature will insure preservation of the balance between man and his environment which is necessary for the future of our planet, as well as for fostering the climate in which Indian Wisdom has always flourished.”
Indian Control of Indian Education reasoned that students would be unable to fulfill their potential without knowledge of self:
“Unless a child learns about the forces which shape [them]: the history of [their] people, their values and customs, their language, [they] will never really know [their self] or [their] potential as a human being.”
This quote asserts education rights that hold true for Indigenous youth today, and it can also be applied to settler Canadians. Settler youth cannot know themselves without learning about the legacy of their people’s colonial history that shapes current attitudes and maintains an inequitable system. Canadians cannot know their potential as human beings without education that explains current impacts of settler colonialism in Canada, and the collective power they have to interrupt it.
This website evolved from a teacher workshop that I had developed while researching my family tree and the history of colonization in Canada during my studies in the Master of Urban Indigenous Education program at York University, and that I shared with student teachers at OISE, with the public at grassroots teach-ins, with Toronto teachers at professional development workshops, and with students in Toronto high schools and Ontario universities.
Nandogikendan.com aims to meet the learning goals found in Indian Control of Indian Education by exploring the truth about Canada’s colonial practices, and the nature of the foundational treaty agreements found in the oral histories of Indigenous cultures. Its goal is to help us determine what our responsibilities are now and how to act on them to restore balance in our relationships with each other and with the land.
Truth and Decolonization: Filling the Educator Achievement Gap Darn It! American Review of Canadian Studies, 2019, Vol. 49, No. 1, 150-186.
Isaac Murdoch (Bomgiizhik)
Isaac Murdoch is a renowned artist, storyteller and author from Serpent River First Nation. He is a direct descendant of Chief Shingwauk and Wiindaatigowinini who were both signatories of the Robinson Huron and Superior Treaties. Isaac’s knowledge of the oral treaty agreements comes from his family connections and from visiting Elders throughout Anishinabek territory and listening to them share their oral histories in their language. Isaac is currently working towards building a language camp named Nimkii Aazhibikong in Anishinabek territory.
Harlan Pruden email: email@example.com
Harlan Pruden is a proud member of the Cree Nation, or nēhiyaw in Cree. Harlan’s mother is from the Beaver Lake Reservation and father from the Whitefish Lake Reservation, both located in northeastern Alberta – Treaty 6 territory. After living in New York for 20 years, Harlan moved to Vancouver and now lives, works and plays on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the shared territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō, and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
Harlan works with the Two-Spirit community locally, nationally and internationally. Harlan is currently a Ph.D student at UBC’s Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program and is focusing on historical images of Two-Spirit individuals. Harlan is also an Educator with the BC Center for Disease Control’s, Chee Mamuk Program and the Managing Editor of Two-SpiritJournal.com, an interactive multi-platform Two-Spirit media/news site. Closer to home, Harlan is a board member for Qmunity, the home for Vancouver’s LGBT, Queer and Two-Spirit community and was just appointed by the City of Vancouver as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Vancouver Public Library. Harlan serves as a representative to the International Indigenous Peoples Working Group on HIV/AIDS.
Before moving to Vancouver, Harlan was co-founder and Director of the New York City’s NorthEast Two Spirit Society and served as the principal Two-Spirit consultant to US’ Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center and Trans Care BC. In August 2014, Harlan was appointed by President Obama to the US Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) and provided advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary of Health & Human Services and the White House. (In December 2018, Harlan was fired from PACHA by Trump via Fedex.)
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