Co-Curricular-Making— Honoring Indigenous Connections to Land, Culture, and the Relational Self

National Indigenous Peoples Day (2019), teacher candidates took part in a smudging ceremony with Elder Rose Caldwell

As Canada seeks responses to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action, university researchers and local partners have come together to seek respectful ways for educators to align their teaching practices toward reconciliation.

The TRC’s calls to action have formalized Canadian educators’ moral and ethical responsibilities to advance reconciliation. Educators across the country are taking up the challenge of decolonizing their curriculum and teaching; but many are confronted by a lack of Indigenous content knowledge, alongside a lack of practice in negotiating the complexities of holding reconciling conversations with their students, colleagues, and extended communities. Educators’ knowledge of local Indigenous histories, cultures, and places must be strengthened.

To respond adequately, educators and their students must participate in co-curricular-making: that is, navigating curricula not as a predetermined guide to follow, but rather as meaning-making learning/unlearning paths that ask educators and their students to adapt, change, and build understandings.

As allies in teacher education, the team behind this project seeks to identify respectful ways for educators to decolonize their teaching. Our community and university partners will each commit their own education-oriented resources and expertise.

University and community partners will design and deliver learning opportunities that will help teachers in confronting and challenging the colonizing practices that have influenced education.  In addition, the partnership will bring Elders and Knowledge Keepers together with participating educators and the extended community. These experiences will study the education conditions that challenge participation in reconciling conversations, grapple with personal narratives, and grow understandings of the histories of colonized and colonizers.

By the end of the five-year project, teachers and their students will have gained deeper understandings of Syilx culture with teachings that connect land, culture and understandings of self in the world. This project will further curricular pathways in kindergarten to grade 12 education, productively contributing towards reconciliation across Canada.


To articulate reciprocal curricular pathways for educators and their students to respectfully respond, embodying TRC Calls to Action

To enhance understandings of Indigenous cultures, histories and perspectives

To mobilize local, place-based, land-based Indigenous ways of knowing and being


Globally, classrooms are recognized as sites to address civil, racial, ecological, and social tensions and inspire reconciliation. But, a key understanding within the field of Indigenous Studies is that teaching and learning must reflect local traditions, perspectives, histories, and concerns. This partnership project will reveal reconciliation tied to particular relationships in particular places and concomitantly reveal reconciliation in action nationally. All partners contributing their expertise and resources to the creation of these conversations will strengthen and optimize mobilization efforts in classrooms across the Okanagan. Rather than acting separately, the partnership enters into shared knowledge-building conversations, gaining momentum as all partners contribute and refine ideas and directions in relation to context again and again. We collectively understand this to be the task of reconciliation—to work alongside each other.

Partner List

Kevin Kaardal

Kevin Kaardal, Superintendent of Schools


Kelly Terbasket,  Program Director


Nataley Nagy, Executive Director


Linda Digby, Executive Director


Pauline Terbasket, Executive Director


Project Facilitation Team

Principal Investigator
Professor and Director, Okanagan School of Education

Dr. Margaret Macintyre Latta brings mixed European ancestry to the team.   She is Professor and Director of the Okanagan School of Education, Faculty of Education, UBC.  And, the PI for this SSHRC grant.  Collectively, project facilitation team members and colleagues live, learn, and work on Okanagan territory, acknowledging Syilx traditions and customs, and seeking together a new relationship, one based in honour and respect.   The team understands the curricular research project, Co-Curricular-Making: Honoring Indigenous Connections to the Land, Culture, and Relational Self, to be one important path for doing so.

Research Assistant

Danielle Lamb (PhD, MEd, BA) is a white settler born and raised in the unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan Peoples. Danielle is passionate about learning, education, and research. Her dissertation, “A Critical Bond: Cultural Transmission and Nation-Building in Métis and Chicana/o Picture Books” focused on the role of literature as a tool for decolonization, recovery, and assertion. She brings experience in research administration, event management and facilitation to the team.

Research Assistant

Jody Dlouhy-Nelson (Doctoral Candidate, MEd, BEd) is an educator of white prairie settler ancestry. Her focus is on teacher education and furthering the lived terms of Truth & Reconciliation. Jody is in third-year interdisciplinary graduate studies with a focus in Education at UBC Okanagan on the unceded and traditional territory of the Syilx Okanagan Peoples. She works with her supervisor & mentor, Dr. Macintyre Latta, and mentor, Dr. Bill Cohen. Jody spent her early career in public education in Saskatchewan, followed by several years in Central Okanagan Public Schools & Sea to Sky School District, where she was a teacher, principal and district administrator. Her primary interest is in supporting teacher candidates in their development as decolonizers and Indigenizers of their classrooms.

Project Manager
Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program
Lecturer, Okanagan School of Education

Desiree Marshall-Peer (MC, BSC) is a Cree-Ojibway educator focusing on re-envisioning the British Columbia education system in innovative ways. Desiree has several years’ experience with the BC Ministry of Education renewed curriculum and competencies, with input on graduation transformations, and assessment. She has certification in Design Thinking and Maker philosophy. Desiree is the Project Manager and also currently a lecturer in the UBC-Okanagan School of Education.

Student Research Assistant

Elizabeth MacDonald was born and raised in the Okanagan. She is entering her third year of a Bachelor of arts degree at UBCO where she is majoring in French. She aspires to one day be a French Immersion Elementary Teacher. Elizabeth first discovered her love for teaching through being an assistant coach at the Okanagan Freestyle Fencing Club, to which she has been a member for seven years. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her family – particularly her 5-year-old niece whom she is very proud of.

Student Research Assistant

“Shekoli, my name is Sheilina Jane John and I’m from the Oneida nation of the Thames located in the great lakes region”

Sheilina Jane John is named into the bear clan as Yakoliwi yo and raised traditionally Longhouse. Three years ago she moved to the beautiful Syilx territory to attend UBCO, majoring in Indigenous studies, minoring in fine arts, on track for her bachelor of Education. She hopes to create a healthier and decolonial education experience for Indigenous youth. She wants it to support their needs and reflect their culture, language and connection to the land.

Student Research Assistant

Brianna Chernenkoff is Metis from Winnipeg Manitoba; she has lived in the Okanagan for most of her life and enjoys traveling and exploring the Okanagan region and British Columbia. She is entering her second year at UBCO with plans to major in Earth and Environmental Science. She aspires to incorporate Traditional Land Practices with modern-day conservation practices to help in the preservation of British Columbia’s old-growth forests and biodiverse lands within the province.

Research team: Co-Investigators, Collaborators

Principal Investigator
Professor and Director, Okanagan School of Education

Dr. Macintyre Latta is a former classroom teacher at the elementary, junior high, and high school levels, who returned to graduate studies compelled by John Dewey’s (1938) assertion that within aesthetic experience is a learning approach and direction. She is committed to the primacy of teachers in the lives of their students and the long-term impact on the future, contributing to the scholarship regarding school curriculum, teacher education, and professional development reform initiatives.

Deputy Superintendent,
Central Okanagan Public Schools

Terry Beaudry has a long and impressive record of implementing district, provincial, and community initiatives. She is well-known for her exceptional work with First Nations bands, teachers and students. Her passions include early learning, Indigenous education, parents as partners, youth at risk, teenage mothers, community partnerships, curriculum development, collaborative learning teams, Education law, and leadership development. Terry-Lee is committed to just, inclusive and equitable practices for all students. She possesses excellent skills, a rich depth of experience, and exemplary personal characteristics, all of which contribute to her successful district leadership and to her strong ties with the UBC Okanagan campus.

Associate Professor, Okanagan School of Education

Dr. Cohen is from the Okanagan Nation with extensive kinship ties throughout BC and Washington. He specializes in the areas of Indigenous knowledge, research, education, and transforming pedagogy. For over twenty-five years, he has engaged in community-driven, transforming projects, as parent, volunteer, advisor, facilitator, and director. He is an educator, artist, story-teller and author. The focus of Dr. Cohen’s continuing research is to identify, understand and theorize the transforming potential of Indigenous and Okanagan knowledge and pedagogy through organic language and cultural knowledge revitalization. As an educator, he has organized numerous community, school, arts, language, literacy and numeracy projects involving elders, fluent speakers, parents and children.

Director of Graduate Programs, Okanagan School of Education

Dr. Sabre Cherkowski has been researching what it means for educators to grow their professional and personal potential toward flourishing at work. She has examined how teacher wellbeing contributes to building positive school experiences and the role of leadership for cultivating positive workspaces. In recognition of her innovative research, Cherkowski received UBC Okanagan’s 2020 Researcher of the Year award for Social Sciences and Humanities in 2020.

Central Okanagan Public Schools

Executive Director, Kelowna Museums Society

Linda Digby has served as Executive Director of Kelowna Museums Society since 2014. Prior to that, she directed the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site in Alberta, and was widely recognized for developing it into a major cultural attraction. Over the past 37 years, Linda has fostered free choice education programs in the domains of environmental education, industrial heritage and urban museum practice. She holds a BSc in Ecosystems Analysis from Western Washington University and a diploma of Secondary Education from McGill.  She is passionate about the power of story to transform perspectives and to inspire sustainable and resilient communities.

Associate Professor, Faculty of Education
University of Alberta

Dr. Donald is Papaschase Cree and Professor of Curriculum Studies and Indigenous Philosophies at the University of Alberta. He is Vice President (English) of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education. His research commitments are guided by Plains Cree and Blackfoot wisdom insights and the ways in which those can meaningfully influence understandings of teaching and learning today. Dr. Donald is particularly interested in representations of Canadian national narratives and citizenship that typically inform curriculum documents and perpetuate the general misrecognition and incomprehensibility of Indigenous experience and memory

Kevin Kaardal

Superintendent of Schools, Central Okanagan Public Schools

Kaardal is the Superintendent of Schools/CEO of the Central Okanagan Public Schools. Kaardal is an award-winning educator, recognized nationally for excellence in educational practice. He is an author and innovator who has presented on educational and administrative topics at provincial, national and international conferences.  He is currently President for the BC School Superintendent’s Association, President-Elect for the Canadian Association of School System Administrators and a Director for Basketball BC. He has served on the Dean of Education’s Advisory

Resource Teacher/Consultant
Central Okanagan Public Schools

Kaiser graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Education in 2002 and Masters of Educational Technology in 2009. He taught in Ontario briefly, then moved back to BC and began teaching in the Central Okanagan School District. He earned the Premier’s Award for Teaching Excellence for developing First Nations English 9.

Director of Undergraduate Programs, Okanagan School of Education

Dr. Klassen obtained both her Bachelor of Education and Master of Arts degrees in Mathematics Education from the University of British Columbia. Wendy completed her PhD in curriculum at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Klassen has teaching experience in the K-12 school system, colleges, and universities in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nunavut. Wendy was nominated for an award of excellence in teaching.

Communications Director,
Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB)

Corinne is uniquely suited to her role at the OBWB with a degree in Political Science from UBC Vancouver, and experience as an award-winning journalist, specializing in social justice issues. Corinne joined the OBWB in 2009 and, as part of her role, manages its public outreach and education program “Okanagan WaterWise,” raising awareness for valley water issues. She is also project manager for the recently-released Our Relationship with Water in the Okanagan – Explorations in Outdoor Education to Support the B.C. Curriculum. The education guide was created in response to requests from Okanagan teachers for locally relevant resources and developed in collaboration with Syilx Knowledge Keepers and several partners including staff at School District 22, 23, and UBC Okanagan School of Education. A “Syilx Knowledge and Perspectives module” is currently in development.


Associate Dean for Indigenous Education, Faculty of Education, UBC
Director, NITEP (Indigenous Teacher Education Program)
Professor, Language and Literacy Education
Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Pedagogy

Dr. Hare is a Professor and Associate Dean for Indigenous Education and Director, NITEP, UBC (Indigenous Teacher Education Program) and serves as a member of the UBC Okanagan School of Education Indigenous Education Council. As an Anishinaabe scholar and educator from the M’Chigeeng First Nation, her research is concerned with improving educational outcomes for Indigenous learners by centering Indigenous knowledge systems within educational reform from early childhood education to post-secondary.

Assistant Superintendent of Central Family of Schools

Professor and Vice-Dean of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Education
University of Ottawa

Dr. Ng-A-Fook is a Professor and Director of the Teacher Education Program at the U of Ottawa. He is the President of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education, the largest professional educational research association in Canada. In these administrative, educational, and research capacities, he is committed toward addressing the 94 Calls to Action put forth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in partnership with the local Indigenous and school board communities. His research specializes in curriculum studies, and he draws on life writing research to develop culturally responsive and relational curriculum with Indigenous and first-generation immigrant communities.

Assistant Superintendent of Lake Country and Mission Family of Schools

Director of Centre for Mindful Engagement & Professor of Teaching, Okanagan School of Education

Dr. Karen Ragoonaden teaches and researches in the Faculty of Education of the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus. She has lived, studied and worked in North America, Europe and Africa. Her publications and research interests lie in the area of mindfulness and well-being, culturally responsive pedagogy and conceptions of teaching and learning. As a qualified Yoga instructor, the concept of Mindful Educational Practices is an integral component of her research and her practice. As a university teacher and researcher, her focus and commitment to educational leadership and curricular innovation have been recognized by virtue of her on campus, professional and community work relating to equity, diversity and inclusion. In 2020, in recognition of her dedication to making a significant impact on the culture of teaching and learning, she received the Provost Office’s Teaching Excellence and Innovation Award.

Assistant Superintendent
Central Okanagan Public Schools

Over the past 29 years, Rever has gained valuable experience and working knowledge at all levels of B.C’s school system, as a teacher, school administrator, Director of Instruction and Assistant Superintendent. During the past 15 years, while working at a district level, he has been engaged in driving system change. This has been done by developing and leading teams of educators and district staff members focused on providing powerful teaching and learning environments for each student K – 12. During this time, he has also gained considerable provincial, national and
international experience because of his interest in and passion for ‘improving student learning and well-being’.

Assistant Superintendent of Westside Family of Schools

Steen has been involved in education for 31 years and is presently serving in a leadership role as Assistant Superintendent in Central Okanagan Public Schools.  In her educational journey over the past three decades, Steen has worked in rural and urban schools in Canada, Japan and South Korea as well as served as an educational coach in the United States and as the District Principal of International Education for the Central Okanagan. Steen continues to be an active advocate for building inclusive school cultures and communities of learning and has an unwavering passion for engaging in Truth and Reconciliation through decolonizing teaching and learning in public schools.  Steen feels privileged to continue to support teacher education programs through a lens of human rights and an appreciation of diversity.

Associate Professor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
University of Toronto

Dr. Styres is a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Iethi’nihsténha Ohwentsia’kékha (Land), Resurgence, Reconciliation and the Politics of Education, and Assistant Professor with the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at OISE. Dr. Styres’ research interests include, but are not limited to, the politics of decolonizing reconciliation in education, the integration of Indigenous perspectives into teacher education programming, Indigenous philosophies and knowledges, culturally aligned methodologies and theoretical approaches to Indigenous research, ethics and protocols that guide the work in Indigenous and non-Indigenous research collaborations, and community engagement.

Director, Aboriginal Programs and Services
UBC Okanagan


This research is supported by a Social Sciences Humanities Research Council Partnership Grant. The project received $1,076,813.