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From Bricolage to Métissage

Rethinking Intercultural Approaches to Indigenous Environmental Education and Research


Gregory Lowan-Trudeau

Rethinking Intercultural Approaches to Indigenous Environmental Education and Research arose from a physical and philosophical journey that critically considered the relationship between Western, Indigenous, and other culturally rooted ecological knowledge systems and philosophies. This book shares two related studies that explored the life histories, cultural, and ecological identities and pedagogical experiences of Indigenous, non-Indigenous, and recently arrived educators and learners from across Canada. A variety of socio-ecological concepts including bricolage, métissage, Two-Eyed Seeing, and the Third Space are employed to (re-) frame discussions of historical and contemporary understandings of interpretive and Indigenous research methodologies, Métis cultures and identities, Canadian ecological identity, intercultural science and environmental education, «wicked problems», contemporary disputes over land and natural resource management, and related activism.


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Chapter 3: Articulating a "Métis" Worldview: Exploring the Third Space


. 3 . articulating a métis worldview: exploring the third space England had kings, queens, and jacks. But we had the jokers. We were the jokers. Outside the deck, across the ocean, dancing our little jigs of happiness. — Jessica Grant, Come Thou Tortoise (2009, p. 141) When considering the contemporary blending and/or integration of Western and Indigenous knowledge and philosophies in Canada, one solu- tion that comes to mind is simply adopting the worldview and practices of the Métis people. However, in this chapter I argue that identifying and adopting the “Métis worldview” as a model for contemporary métissage (ecological in this case) would be inappropriate because a singularly identifiable Métis worl- dview does not exist. While certain similarities in language patterns, spiritual beliefs, and other cultural markers can be identified, the diversity between and within Métis communities and people in Canada is greater than their commonalities. Nevertheless, what can be most commonly identified is a “Third Space” mentality (Richardson, 2004): amenability to incorporating two or more cul- tures, languages, and spiritual traditions on an individual, community, and regional level. Rather than seeking to reduce and essentialize the vast diver- sity of the Métis world to an exclusive set of cultural and epistemological characteristics, I demonstrate that what is required is an understanding of the 32 rethinking intercultural approaches spirit of métissage—a Third Space mentality. I believe that it is this spirit or mentality that is required for successful ecological métissage. I...

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