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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 1. Introduction


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Motivated by recent environmental initiatives such as Saddle Lake’s water treatment system and T’Sou-ke First Nation’s solar energy project and inspired by examples of cultural métissage in Canadian history, the purpose of the doctoral study that led to the development of this book was to explore “ecological métissage” as an emerging vision for environmental education in Canada (Lowan-Trudeau, 2012b, 2013b). The concept of ecological métissage arises from Thomashow’s (1996) description of “ecological identity,” as the way that we understand ourselves in relation to the natural world, and an understanding of “métissage” as the mixing or blending often associated with culture or ethnicity (Chambers, Donald and Hasebe-Ludt, 2002; Nguyen, 2005; Pieterse, 2001). For the purposes of this inquiry, ecological métissage denotes a blending of two or more ecological worldviews at a personal and/or cultural level as represented in personal identity, philosophies, and practices.

This theme is also supported by an increasing number of scholars and educators who advocate for the integration of Indigenous, Western and other knowledges in our collective attempts to address the world’s current ecological crises. Indigenous and non-Indigenous environmental educators alike are working to bridge cultural gaps as well as to revive and preserve Indigenous traditions and ecological knowledge, ever conscious of the delicate balance ← 5 | 6 → between respectful sharing and misappropriating or misusing Indigenous knowledge.

However, as our field has grown, divergent perspectives have emerged regarding the current and potential relationship between...

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