Studying Colonial History vs. Studying a History of Colonialism


Reflecting back on my schooling, and how I was taught about the history of our environment in regards to colonialism, I realize I was never really exposed to this topic until my grade 10 Native Studies class. It was in this class that I critically analyzed and explored this topic and learned about the serious impacts colonialism played on the environment and indigenous cultures.

This made me question why I had never learned about this previously in any of my History/Social classes? After all this is a crucial part of Canadian history, and as Newbery (2012) states, “the failure to be self-reflexive about the intersections of colonialism and pedagogy is one of the factors that has led to the stereotypical representation of Aboriginal peoples and the appropriation of cultural practices in some outdoor education programs,” which, evidently, proves that the lack of this knowledge has harmful impacts on how students understand Aboriginal history and the environment as a whole.

One of the biggest reasons I had not been introduced to this topic is because at the time, my textbooks and curriculum did not require it, an unfortunate mistake our education system made. As Newbery (2012) discusses, how can students ever be expected to “come to terms with [their] own implication in colonial history” and be expected to understand and relate to their environment if they have not been taught about the impact od colonialism on the environment.

I am happy to know that since I was in school there has been much more awareness about this topic and education curriculums are now requiring it to be taught to students, but my experience in relation to this class has inspired me to ensure that all my future students are well educated and engaged in understanding all aspects of environment, and that they develop their own unique connections to it.

Additionally, I too have grown in my understanding of the environment and will continue to explore my relationship with it. I enjoyed when Newbery (2012) states, “wilderness is not something that simply is, but rather is a particular and changing story we tell of geographical space,” for I feel my understanding of the environment’s history, current meaning, and future representation are all intertwined with one another and enhance my connection.

Newberry, L. (2012). Canoe Pedagogy and Colonial History: Exploring contested spaces of outdoor environmental education. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education. 17, 30-45.


One thought on “Studying Colonial History vs. Studying a History of Colonialism

  1. I too can relate to, learning more about this topic through Native Studies in high school. Do you think you would be making these connections without part taking in this very course? I thoroughly enjoyed your in text citations these were well thought through! Good work!!


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