Indigenization is about undoing trauma: E. Steinman, G. Kovats Sánchez, ‘Magnifying and healing colonial trauma in higher education: Persistent settler colonial dynamics at the Indigenizing university’, Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 2021


Abstract: Processes of Indigenization under way in Canada aim to bring more Indigenous students and faculty to mainstream colleges and universities. These Indigenization initiatives are critical components that work toward reconciling systemic and societal inequalities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous within higher education. Despite these important efforts, institutions of higher education were founded on and continue to reflect the goals and norms of a settler colonial society, and such contexts constitute a complicated and evolving environment for Indigenous people. Based on interviews with 23 Indigenous faculty, students, staff, and community members, this paper explores their experiences at an Indigenizing university. We outline how encounters with ongoing colonialism and contradictions at an Indigenizing university both generated new pain and echoed existing historical trauma. In many ways, explicit and publicized institutional efforts to incorporate Indigenous people and perspectives, while needed and valued, simultaneously magnified the cultural dissonance, biases, and power structures within the institution. Consequently, participants identified needs for healing that were insufficiently supported and also constrained by institutional logics. This study calls attention to the settler colonial dynamics that often persist within North American colleges and universities in their efforts to target and recruit Indigenous students and how such institutions should support robust and culturally appropriate healing practices and resources that depart from default institutional understandings and operative processes. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

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