Anti-colonial project nears completion, film to be released this spring

Sask Bulletin
March 29, 2021

Dr. Verna St. Denis

In 2011, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation entered into a research project with the University of Waterloo and the University of Saskatchewan to build and mobilize knowledge on race and colonialism in Canada.

In 2014, the Federation supported Phase 2 of the project which included the development of a film on anti-colonialism in education. The goal of the film is to shine a light on not only the history of education in Canada, but also the ongoing impact of colonization on the K-12 system and beyond.

Over the past seven years, Federation staff has worked closely with Dr. Verna St. Denis and other passionate Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators to support the development of the film Education for All: Decolonizing Canadian Education. The research started with ceremony and was done in partnership with an Elder, community members, teachers, the filmmaker and academics.

The film is 32 minutes long and explores themes of the myth, the truth and the hope in education. Residential schools, teaching resources, past and current education policies and the experience of Indigenous educators are all explored through the lens of anti-colonization and anti-racism. The film will be released later in the spring.

In preparation for the release of the film, the Federation, in partnership with St. Denis and other community members, will develop a website, discussion guide and additional resources to support teachers in viewing and utilizing the film. The film will be widely available to teachers for their own viewing and to share with secondary and post-secondary students as well as for those in more formal leadership positions as part of their own reconciliation journey.

The timing of the film pairs nicely with other events happening in the province. St. Denis has recently been appointed to the position of Special Advisor to the President on Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression at the University of Saskatchewan.

St. Denis is a member of Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation, a professor in the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan and an internationally renowned scholar, teacher and educator in anti-racist education. She sees her new role as supporting faculty and students to reflect on both the individual and societal impacts of colonizing narratives and begin the practice of decolonizing the education system.

More information about St. Denis’ work and the upcoming film will be available in a future issue of the Saskatchewan Bulletin.