The decolonization of Northwest Community College

Beverly Moore-Garcia, Florida International University


In 1996, the authors of the Canadian Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples concluded Canadian educational policy had been based on the false assumption of the superiority of European worldviews. The report authors recommended the transformation of curriculum and schools to recognize that European knowledge was not universal. Aboriginal researcher Battiste believes the current system of Canadian education causes Aboriginal children to face cognitive imperialism and cognitive assimilation and that this current practice of cultural racism in Canada makes educational institutions a hostile environment for Aboriginal learners. In order to counter this cultural racism, Battiste calls for the decolonization of education. In 2005, the president of Northwest Community College (NWCC), publicly committed to decolonizing the college in order to address the continuing disparity in educational attainment between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal learners. Upon the president’s departure in 2010, the employees of NWCC were left to define for themselves the meaning of decolonization. This qualitative study was designed to build a NWCC definition of colonization and decolonization by collecting researcher observations, nine weeks of participant blog postings, and pre and post blog Word survey responses drawn from a purposeful sample of six Aboriginal and six non-Aboriginal NWCC employees selected from staff, instructor and administrator employee groups. The findings revealed NWCC employees held multiple definitions of colonization and decolonization which did not vary between employee groups, or based on participant gender; however, differences were found based on whether the participants were Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal. Both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants thought decolonization was a worthy goal for the college. Aboriginal participants felt hopeful that decolonization would happen in the future and thought decolonization had to do with moving forward to a time when they would be valued, respected, empowered, unashamed, safe, and viewed as equal to non-Aboriginals. Non-Aboriginal participants were unsure if decolonization was possible because it would require going back in time to restore the Aboriginal way of life. When non-Aboriginal participants felt their thoughts were not being valued or they were being associated with colonialism, they felt angry and guarded and were uncomfortable with Aboriginal participants expressing anger towards Colonizers.

Subject Area

Higher education

Recommended Citation

Moore-Garcia, Beverly, "The decolonization of Northwest Community College" (2014). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3705092.