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


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

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

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.

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

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

Assistant Superintendent
Central Okanagan Public Schools

Dr. Rick Oliver has had the privilege of living, working, and raising a family on the traditional territory of the Okanagan (Syilx) people for more than thirty years.  He has worked in a variety of roles through his career including counsellor/teacher, school administrator, program director for the Ministry of Education, director of instruction, and for the past five years as Assistant Superintendent for Central Okanagan Public Schools.  Rick was named one of Canada’s Outstanding Principals in 2009 and holds degrees in Science, Social Work, and Education.

Central Okanagan Public Schools

Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program
Lecturer, Okanagan School of Education

Marshall-Peters was a teacher in the Kindergarten-12 system for 16 years, focusing on Numeracy, Science and Aboriginal Education. She has spent several years working with First Nations Education Steering Committee with curriculum writing and co-authored several Teacher Resource Guides.

During the same time she worked with the BC Ministry of Education on developing the Core Competencies and the Mathematics curriculum.  She then moved her career into teacher education, working alongside districts to move praxis within the classroom.

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’.

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

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.