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Protest as Pedagogy

Teaching, Learning, and Indigenous Environmental Movements


Gregory Lowan-Trudeau

Written during a time characterized by catalyzing Indigenous environmental movements such as Idle No More, political upheaval, and the final years of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Protest as Pedagogy: Teaching, Learning, and Indigenous Environmental Movements was motivated by Gregory Lowan-Trudeau’s personal experiences as an activist, educator, and researcher. Insights from interviews with activists and educators in a variety of school, community, and post-secondary contexts are presented in relation to teaching and learning during, and in response to, Indigenous environmental movements. Looking toward future possibilities, the rise of renewable energy development by Indigenous communities across Canada is also considered. Throughout Protest as Pedagogy, these inquiries are guided by a theoretical framework built on concepts such as decolonization, Herbert Marcuse’s repressive tolerance, Elliot Eisner’s three curricula, and broader fields of study such as social movement learning, critical media literacy, Indigenous media studies, and environmental communication.

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Chapter 2. Indigenous Environmental Activism and Education in Urban, Rural, and Remote Contexts: a Tale of two Cities


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A Tale of Two Cities1

Snow crunches beneath my feet as I reach the top of the ridge. A puff of warm breath temporarily melts the ice in my beard and obscures my vision. I pause and appreciate the frigid calm of this winter morning. I inhale and hold my breath. My vision soon clears and I gain a stunning view of the curious panorama before me. Beyond a small duck pond, the new lego-inspired Children’s Hospital looms in the foreground, obscuring the suburbs, foothills, and Bow River valley that eventually give way to the Mistakis, the western horizon line of the Rocky Mountains used by the Blackfoot for cartography and navigation (Binnema, 2001).

This snowy field was once a prairie grassland, crisscrossed by dirt pathways and pockmarked with gopher holes that served as the playground of my youth. My friends ← 31 | 32 → and I would ride out here on BMX bikes, build jumps and forts, dig pits, and battle with rival groups for the right to prime territories. I remember coming home at the end of a day of hard play, coated in dust with a painfully dry throat, dying of thirst, but profoundly content.

As we grew older and became more focused on our studies, organized sports, and mountain adventures, we rarely visited ‘the field’. However, it eventually became my running place. Three...

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