Teaching settler children: Janice Reigert, Normalizing White Settler Innocence: An Anti-colonial Analysis of the Saskatchewan Social Studies Four Curriculum, MA dissertation, University of Saskatchewan, 2022


Abstract: Using poststructural tools of analysis, this thesis analyzes how Saskatchewan’s grade four social studies curriculum (2010) continues to preserve White settler innocence and normalize Indigenous dispossession despite its intent to be inclusive of Indigenous content and knowledge. Conducted through an anti-colonial lens, this research investigates the notion that provincially mandated moves to include Indigenous content and knowledge in provincial curriculum, driven in part by dominant national discourses of reconciliation, are enough to confront and unsettle Canada’s racist, colonial structures and practices which produce and naturalize the racialization, dispossession and dislocation of Indigenous peoples while preserving White settlers as innocent. Using poststructural methods of analysis, this study aims to determine the productive, identitymaking potential of the national discourse found within the outcomes and indicators of the Saskatchewan grade four social studies curriculum document. The interpretation of the curricular discourse, framed by theories of settler colonialism and Whiteness studies, finds that wellintended attempts to include Indigenous perspectives and knowledge continue replicate and reinforce racist, colonial strategies that preserve Canada’s racial hierarchy. By circulating
discourses which naturalize White settler belonging; distort Indigenous sovereignty; maintain Indigenous Otherness; regulate Indigenous exteriority through recognition; and attempt to maintain colourblind race neutrality, this thesis demonstrates how the curriculum effectively functions to exalt (Thobani, 2007) White settler subjectivity and secure the settler state. The implications of this research suggest that education systems and teachers must move beyond a reliance on models of Indigenous inclusion to promote racial equity and therefore must receive an adequate, ongoing pre-practice and professional education in identifying and challenging ongoing forms racism and colonialism.

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