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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 4. Protest as Pedagogy: Exploring Teaching and Learning in Indigenous Environmental Movements


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Exploring Teaching and Learning in Indigenous Environmental Movements1

Indigenous peoples and allies in Canada and around the world have a long and continued history of resisting a wide array of natural resource developments that threaten both the cultural and ecological integrity of traditional territories (Alfred, 2009; Hall, 2009; Kino-nda-niimi Collective, 2014; Lane, 2006; Ornelas, 2014). This resistance takes many forms ranging from protests and blockades to engagement with social, popular, and independent media; advocacy and legal action; artistic initiatives; reclamation and revitalization of cultural and ecological systems through land-based education; and, increasingly, the re-visioning of traditional knowledge and wisdom through community-based environmental initiatives. Sustaining such efforts often requires the cooperation of Indigenous peoples with each other and non-Indigenous allies.

As described in previous chapters, as a land-based Métis scholar and educator, I have participated in many instances of Indigenous environmental activism ranging from organizing university teach-ins during Idle No More ← 69 | 70 → (Kino-nda-niimi Collective, 2014; Lowan-Trudeau, 2013), a nation-wide grassroots Indigenous movement that began in the fall of 2012, to on the ground protests against the Northern Gateway Pipeline. In my experience, these kinds of socio-ecological initiatives not only raise critical awareness of issues amongst activists, but also hold the potential to foster increased dialogue and pedagogical opportunities for individuals with diverse perspectives and opinions, representing various communities and institutions. Social movement learning scholars such as Hall (2009) and Clover (2010) concur and suggest...

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