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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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Prelude: A Tale of Two First Nations


Two Aboriginal1 communities in western Canada, Saddle Lake First Nation in Alberta and T’Sou-ke First Nation on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, have recently been capturing the attention of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal leaders, scholars, and educators due to innovative environmental initiatives and associated social, economic and educational developments.

In Saddle Lake a revolutionary, low-impact water treatment system has attracted interest from other remote Aboriginal communities (Narine, 2009). Saddle Lake was once a highly polluted body of water; community members had to boil all water prior to consumption due to inadequate waste and fresh water treatment facilities (Drake, 2006). After repeated appeals, the community received financial assistance from the federal government to clean up the lake and develop a new water treatment system. Against the advice of government and industry experts, Saddle Lake partnered with researchers from the University of Alberta to develop a revolutionary water treatment system. The project managers were influenced by the vision of their Elders to embrace modern science guided by traditional wisdom. As one participant commented, “It’s always been a desire of the Elders to embrace sound science and…traditional holistic teachings to fashion healthy drinking water” (Narine, ¶ 6). ← 1 | 2 →

Rather than using chemicals to treat their water, further tampering with the highly disturbed ecosystem, the Saddle Lake team developed a system that uses a non-invasive integrated membrane filter (Narine, 2009). Saddle Lake’s treatment system has been highly successful and is now in high demand across Canada. The project’s...

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