Walking on This Earth, Finding Belonging: Ruminations of an Unsettled Settler


  • Stephanie Bartlett University of Calgary




Blackfoot language, curriculum, Indigenous ways of knowing, land, photovoice, poetic inquiry


In this paper, I contemplate my positionality as a non-Indigenous settler of Scottish, English and German descent. I (re)visit places that have shaped my life-journey and engages in a thoughtful participation between language, land and my positionality as an emerging researcher within an Indigenist paradigm. I consider Regan’s (2010) concept of the unsettled settler, defined as non-Indigenous people learning to embrace the struggle to face truths of colonialism and the consequences of the Indian Residential School system. Through photovoice and poetic inquiry, I reflect on my own encounters with the land and more-than-human relatives as a way to disrupt colonial assumptions. Ruminations, pictures and a collection of poems invite an exploration of the curricular implications of land-based teachings and reconciling ways of knowing with the land. By delving into and sharing my own personal experiences on the land, I hope to invite non-Indigenous educators to consider their own positionality and relationship with the land as part of their response to the Truth and Reconciliation (2015) calls to action.

Author Biography

Stephanie Bartlett, University of Calgary

Stephanie Bartlett is a PhD candidate in Educational Research at the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, where she is also an instructor. Emerging from her experiences in collaborative creativity and human-centred design, her research focuses on education for reconciliation, Indigenous pedagogies, poetic inquiry, and life writing.


Abram, D. (1996). The spell of the sensuous: Perception and language in a more-than-human world. Pantheon.

Adams, A. (Producer), & St. John, M. (Director). (2006). Colonization road [Documentary film]. Canada: Decolonization Road Productions.

Archibald, J. (2008). An Indigenous storywork methodology. In J. G. Knowles & A. L. Cole (Eds.),Handbook of the arts in qualitative research: Perspectives, methodologies, examples, and issues (pp. 371-384). Sage. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4135/9781452226545.n31

Basso, K. H. (1996). Wisdom sits in places: Landscape and language among the Western Apache. University of New Mexico Press.

Battiste, M. (2013). Decolonizing education: Nourishing the learning spirit. Purich.

Chilisa, B. (2012). Indigenous research methodologies. Sage.

Cook, K., & Buck, G. (2010). Photovoice: A community-based socioscientific pedagogical tool. Science Scope, 33(7), 35.

Coulthard, G. (2014). Red skin, white masks. University of Minnesota Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5749/minnesota/9780816679645.001.0001

Cruikshank, J. (2005). Do glaciers listen? Local knowledge, colonial encounters, and social imagination. University of British Columbia Press.

Donald, D. (2016). From what does ethical relationality flow? An Indian Act in three artifacts. In J. Seidel & D. W. Jardine (Eds.), The ecological heart of teaching: Radical tales of refuge and renewal for classrooms and communities (pp. 10-16). Peter Lang.

Friere, P. (1995). A pedagogy of hope: Reliving pedagogy of the oppressed. Continuum.

Hasebe-Ludt, E, Chambers, C., & Leggo, C. (2009). Life writing and literary métissage as an ethos for our times. Peter Lang.

Iseke, J. (2011). Indigenous digital storytelling in video: Witnessing with Alma Desjarlais. Equity & Excellence in Education, 44(3), 311-329. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10665684.2011.591685

Kelly, V. (2018). Foreword: Walking in a good way with all our relations. In E. Hasebe-Ludt & C. Leggo (Eds.), Canadian curriculum studies: A métissage of inspiration/imagination/interconnection (pp. xvi-xvii). Canadian Scholars.

Kovach, M. (2000). Creating indigenous research frameworks. In M. Kovach, Indigenous methodologies: Characteristics, conversations, and contexts (pp. 39-54). University of Toronto Press.

Leggo, C. (2019). Research as poetic rumination: Twenty-six ways of listening to light. In R. Irwin, Hasebe-Ludt, & A. Sinner (Eds.), Storying the world: The contributions of Carl Leggo on language and poetry. Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429025600-17

Little Bear, L. (2000). Jagged worldviews colliding. In M. Battiste (Ed.), Reclaiming indigenous voice and vision (pp. 77-85). University of British Columbia Press.

Marten, K., & Mirraboopa, B. (2003) Ways of knowing, being and doing: A theoretical framework and methods for indigenous and indigenist research. Journal of Australian Studies, 27(76), 203-214. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14443050309387838

Prendergast, M., Leggo,C., & Sameshima, P. (2009). Poetic inquiry: Vibrant voices in the social sciences. Sense. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789087909512

Regan, P. (2010). Unsettling the settler within: Indian residential schools, truth telling, and reconciliation in Canada. University of British Columbia Press. https://www.ubcpress.ca/asset/9215/1/9780774817776.pdf

Sameshima, P., Fidyk, A., James, K., & Leggo, C. (2017). Poetic inquiry: Enchantments of place. Vernon.

Simpson, L. (2017). As we have always done: Indigenous freedom through radical resistance. University of Minnesota Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5749/j.ctt1pwt77c

Smith, A. (2019). Conquest: Sexual violence and American Indian genocide. South End Press.

Smith, L. T. (2012). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous peoples (2nd ed.). Zedbooks.

Styres, S. (2019). Literacies of land: Decolonizing narratives, storying, and literature. In L. T. Smith, E. Tuck, & K. W. Yang (Eds.), Indigenous and decolonizing studies in education: Mapping the long view (pp. 24-37). Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429505010-2

Tanaka, M. (2016). Learning & teaching together: Weaving Indigenous ways of knowing into education. University of British Columbia Press.

Teachers College, University of Columbia. (2001, September 21). Flunking retirement: A chat with Maxine Greene. https://www.tc.columbia.edu/articles/2001/january/flunking-retirement-a-chat-with-maxine-greene/

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). Final report of the truth and reconciliation commission of Canada. Volume one: Summary. Honouring the truth, reconciling the future. James Lorimer.

Turner, N. J., & Spalding, P. (2018). Learning from the earth, learning from each other: Ethnoecology, responsibility, and reciprocity. In M. Asch, J. Borrows, & J. Tully (Eds.) Resurgence and reconciliation: Indigenous-settler relations and earth teachings (pp. 265-291). University of Toronto Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3138/9781487519926-011

Tuck, E., & Gaztambide-Fernández, R.A. (2013). Curriculum, replacement, and settler futurity. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing 29(1), 72-89. https://journal.jctonline.org/index.php/jct/article/view/411

Tuck, E., & Yang, K. W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, education & society, 1(1), 1-40. https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/des/article/view/18630

Tully, J. (2018). Reconciliation here on Earth. In M. Asch, J. Borrows, & J. Tully (Eds.), Resurgence and reconciliation: Indigenous-settler relations and Earth teachings. University of Toronto Press.

Wall Kimmerer, R., & Turner, N. (moderator). (2020, September 24). Braiding ways of knowing. In M. Richardson, D. Suzuki, & D. Courchene, Jr. (Chairs), Reconciling ways of knowing. https://www.waysofknowingforum.ca/episode3

Wall Kimmerer, Robin. (2013). Braiding sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teachings of plants. Milkweed.

Wang, C., & Burris, M. (1997). Photovoice: Concept, methodology and use for participatory needs assessment. Health Education and Behaviour, 24, 369-387. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/109019819702400309

Wilson, S. (2008). Research Indigenous research methods. Fernwood.

Wilson, S. (2007). Guest editorial: What is an indigenist research paradigm? Canadian Journal of Native Education, 30(2), 193-195.




How to Cite

Bartlett, S. (2021). Walking on This Earth, Finding Belonging: Ruminations of an Unsettled Settler. Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, 18(2), 212–237. https://doi.org/10.25071/1916-4467.40634