Higher Education in Canada: Decoding, Deconstructing, and Decolonizing Our Future

April 13, 2023, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (EST)

Location: Global Centre for Pluralism (330 Sussex Dr, Ottawa ON K1N 0C7)

Click Here to Register! – Registration Closed

How could higher education in Canada contribute to better futures for all? How do you envision the future of higher education in Canada?

This event was an opportunity to learn about and discuss the implications for Canada of several exciting international policy initiatives related to higher education that have emerged from UNESCO circles over the past two years. It challenged participants to reflect on how we can decode, deconstruct, and decolonize higher education in Canada.

View and download the schedule below:

Supporting Documents and Resources:

CCUNESCO Publication: Indigenous perspectives on Higher Education: Higher education in Canada: Decoding, Deconstructing, and Decolonizing Our Future

Higher education in its current format emerged from a narrow settlers’ perspective and continues to largely exclude the perspectives and ways of knowing of Indigenous Peoples, to its own detriment and theirs. 

To favour the well-being of all people inclusively and the sustainability of societies overall, higher education systems must be deconstructed and co-created into new structures that respect and incorporate Indigenous knowledge and values. They should be redesigned to feel inclusive to Indigenous students and should explore what Indigenous wisdom and culture—developed over millennia—can offer humankind rather than expecting students to conform to existing norms.

A better structure for higher education would focus on accessibility, inclusiveness and respect for Indigenous ways of knowing. This should be validated and incorporated into curricula. Higher education should also evolve to include Indigenous methods of knowledge acquisition, such as land-based education. By improving equity, decolonizing knowledge, opening science, reducing or eliminating racism, and offering robust and culturally attuned supports to students to ensure they complete their studies, Indigenous higher education models can support the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

IAESC Report: Indigenous Perspectives: Advancing Change in Higher Education

Indigenous worldviews and ways of learning and teaching can benefit not only Indigenous students, but all of humanity.

UNESCO’s Open Science Recommendation


Open science respects the diversity of cultures and knowledge systems around the world as foundations for sustainable development, fostering open dialogue with indigenous peoples and local communities and respect for diverse knowledge holders for contemporary problem solving and emergent strategies towards transformative change.

CCUNESCO’s white paper on Open Science and the Decolonization of knowledge

Many speakers contrasted Indigenous and western views of science, describing Indigenous science as the foundation for understanding the nature of the universe and our relationship with it versus western science as something that is more fleeting and focused on the temporal. Culture, tradition, spirituality, relationships and time are all important components of Indigenous Knowledge (which is science). The lack or loss of these has resulted in devastation, both for Indigenous Peoples and the world in general. There is fear that this may continue, but revitalizing these understandings is a source of hope for the next generation.