Manitoba education reforms, white settler discourses, and the marginalization of Indigenous perspectives

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Bees, Ellen
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In 2019, the province of Manitoba started a process of reforming the education system, however it is important to question the role of white settler colonialism in this process. This critical discourse analysis examined how white settler colonialism is normalized and advanced through the discourses found in selected Manitoba education reform documents. Contrasting discourses emerged in the government documents and the briefs submitted from education organizations and school divisions. The dominant discourse, found particularly in the government documents and other documents, featured colour-blind ideology that normalized whiteness. Indigenous students were frequently discussed using a deficit narrative, while ideological discourse structures put distance between the Indigenous community and the education system. Neoliberal views of learning and achievement were emphasized in the dominant discourse, which conflicted with definitions of achievement put forth by Indigenous scholars. Attributes of Indigenous learning were often omitted or instrumentalized to further neoliberal views of learning and achievement. Superficial integration of Indigenous content and perspectives was evident, running counter to a more transformative trans-systemic integration of Indigenous and Eurocentric knowledge systems. In summary, these discourses worked to normalize and advance white settler colonialism and marginalize Indigenous perspectives, while contrasting discourses offered a transformative vision of an education system based in principles of equity.
Manitoba, education reforms, Indigenous, neoliberal, critical discourse analysis, colonialism, settler colonialism, critical race theory, education