Rebuilding the longhouse: deconstructing settler colonialism via decolonizing education

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University of New Brunswick


Rebuilding the longhouse is a restorative approach to reconciliation that applies community, action-based qualitative research methods aimed at re-establishing the social arrangement outlined in the Wabanaki treaties of peace and friendship. Wabanaki peoples trusted the treaty process to secure their ways of living and title to their traditional lands and waterways. The British Empire and then Canada ultimately violated treaty obligations in many ways that continue to impact Wabanaki holistic growth and development. Wabanaki peoples, like so many Indigenous peoples worldwide, find themselves in the position of having to navigate settler control of their sovereignty and right to self-determination to heal the intergenerational trauma of settler colonialism. The first step towards that goal involves critical analysis of the many modern machinations of settler colonialism, and highlighting the neo-colonial ways settler societies empower their own future growth at the expense of Indigenous peoples. Decolonizing education within neo-colonial settler societies is a growing field of study for Indigenous peoples hoping to meaningfully and effectively reconcile the intergenerational trauma of settler colonialism. A restorative concept of reconciliation ultimately means detaching from old-world, colonial attitudes, behaviours, and practices and embracing the idea that before we attach cultural, ethnic, religious, and linguistic labels, we are all treaty peoples first. This thesis will show that when Indigenous societies detach from settler control of Indigenous education they are able to recover, revitalize, and re-establish their traditional knowledge exchange processes and begin to heal the intergenerational damage of settler colonialism.