“Taking Haig-Brown Seriously”: Implications of Indigenous Thought on Ontario Educators

Lorenzo Cherubini


Haig-Brown’s paper offers a definitive statement of the bi-epistemic implications of Indigenous and mainstream knowledge paradigms as they influence curriculum studies. For Ontario educators its impact centers ultimately in forcing them to make sense of their own epistemic experiences in light of Indigenous ontologies and curricular policies. The aim of this paper is to apply the descriptive points of view that Haig-Brown presents into a more extended conversation as it applies to a provincial context. More specifically, it first offers a conceptual analysis of the tension between the principles of integrating Indigenous Knowledge into mainstream curriculum practices and the realities of their integration in the context of Ontario Aboriginal education policy. Second, it discusses how Indigenous Knowledge has the potential to “reframe and decentre” educators’ paradigms of curriculum, teaching and learning from the same policy context (Haig-Brown, 2008, p. 13). Last, this paper comments upon how the Ontario policy has the potential to dismantle the “border-world” that Indigenous epistemologies have been relegated to by colonial understandings of teaching and curriculum (Haig-Brown, 2008, p. 14). This analysis represents a response to the ideological pressure on public school educators in Ontario to implement the curricular focus of the policy Framework into their school’s classrooms. Yet, Haig-Brown’s warning to seriously consider the implications of Indigenous Knowledge eclipses to a much greater extent the politics behind the rhetoric of the policy. The underlying effect of Haig-Brown’s position implicates educators’ ideologies as they plan and exercise the respective policy interventions into their curriculum.


Indigenous Education; curricular policy; epistemology

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