Understanding and Finding Our Way – Decolonizing Canadian Education

Decolonizing Canadian Education

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Understanding and Finding Our Way – Decolonizing Canadian Education was unavailable for viewing since April 7, 2022 for one year to respect the cultural protocols of the family of the late Davis Swindler-Horse. Davis contributed Cree translations and narrated the Cree language in the film. In Cree culture, the grieving period is one of the most sacred times for both those who have left us and for those who are left behind. It is tradition to set aside physical memories of loved ones for one year until the first memorial feast. As a professional organization we respect the values and beliefs of all. We remain ever so grateful for the contributions late Davis blessed us with in narrating Cree in the film. His family is very thankful for this demonstration of respect. Now that the year of mourning has passed, we thank Davis and his family for the teachings and we will continue to honour Davis and his memory through sharing the film and accompanying resources.


All Canadians are responsible for reconciliation. Teachers have a unique opportunity to contribute by advocating for change to eliminate inequity and racism. Understanding and Finding Our Way – Decolonizing Canadian Education is a powerful film that exposes education inequities within public education in Canada. It challenges viewers to help decolonize education so that all students can succeed.

The film was produced by Dr. Verna St. Denis, an internationally renowned scholar in anti-racist education. It was directed by award-winning filmmaker Alison Duke following appropriate protocols and under the guidance of Elder Mary Lee. The 32-minute film is divided into three parts.

Part one – kiyâskiwâcimowina (myth)

Explores the myths that “everyone is equal in Canada. Canada does not have a race problem. Education is the great equalizer. Education is neutral.”

Part two – tâpewêwin (truth)

Exposes public education inequities and explores the need for system change through an anti-colonial lens.

Part three – ôte-nikâniyihtamawin (hope)

Inspires hope that, together, we can create public education systems that support the success of all students.

You can view the full film here.


Warning: Film content and discussions prompted by the facilitation and discussion guides may be challenging or upsetting. Please consider connecting with a local Elder or Knowledge Keeper, friend or colleague, or any of the following, for additional support:

  • The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day.
  • Members of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation can also access support from the Member and Family Assistance Program.
  • Healthline 811 can provide links to information about provincial mental health supports.

The film was created through the support of the Dr. Jennifer Simpson, Principal Investigator of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council grant: Building and Mobilizing Knowledge on Race and Colonialism in Canada.

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation is humbled to work with and learn from Elder Mary Lee, Dr. Verna St. Denis, Shelly Tootoosis, local Indigenous leaders and educators, in partnership with the Universities of Saskatchewan and Waterloo. The Federation acknowledges the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and commits to furthering the work of reconciliation in order to improve the experiences of all Saskatchewan teachers and students.

Film Discussion and Facilitation Guides Available

Explore themes identified in the film and use the discussion and facilitation guides to reflect on and discuss ways to decolonize education so all students can succeed. Use the resources to support your personal learning or with staff and students so we can learn and grow together.

Discussion Guides Version A

Discussion Guides Version B (Extended)