Indigenous Education: Wholistic Teachings and Transformative Pedagogies

Method of delivery:
In-Person, Burnaby
Applications open:
May 1, 2022
Applications close:
March 30, 2023
Next start date:
Fall 2023

This Graduate Diploma in Advanced Professional Studies in Education has been developed in partnership and collaboration with School District 44 (North Vancouver), School District 41 (Burnaby), and the sə̓lílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Nations, and classes will be hosted on their traditional territories within the Burnaby School District.


Designed for

This Graduate Diploma in Advanced Professional Studies in Education (GDE) is designed for educators involved in K–12 or community-based education who are interested in developing their pedagogical practice while engaging in sustained reflective inquiry, all within the context of wholistic teachings and transformative pedagogies woven into Indigenous education.

Program Format

  • Two-year, 30-unit program
  • Cohort model, typically 20-30 students with smaller mentor groups
  • Interactive and experiential in-person classes: 
    • Wednesday from 4:30-8:30 p.m. (Fall 2023-Fall 2024)
  • Includes an Orientation Weekend (date TBD) and a one-week Summer Institute each August
  • No classes in July, during the winter break or ministry-designated spring break


Themes of Study

  • Practitioner inquiry and reflective practice
  • Indigenous worldviews and perspectives in education
  • Indigenous and wholistic approaches to learning, teaching, and well-being
  • Exploration of Indigenous knowledge practices and transformative pedagogies
  • Indigenous making, circle processes, and story telling
  • Ecological place-based practices informed by Indigenous communities
  • Community-centered dialogue and leadership
  • Education for belonging, kinship, and relationality

Program Capacities 

Program capacities provide a reflective focus for documenting and self-assessing learning.  At frequent intervals throughout the program, participants and their mentors refer to the capacities to assess progress, to set new goals and to create direction for further learning in field studies.  At the end of the program, each participant’s comprehensive portfolio includes a synthesis of learning and self-assessment of growth in these capacities, supported by evidence of learning.  This program provides opportunities to develop these capacities:

  • Cultivate orientations of inquiry and critical, creative reflection that nurture Indigenous understandings of transformation of self and educational practice.
  • Demonstrate practices of caring for the self and others in intercultural community contexts while honouring your character, gift, and struggle.
  • Expand the understanding of teaching relationally while being in tune with learners from multiple worldviews and orientations.
  • Advocate for reciprocal relationships between Indigenous and educational communities, while respectfully weaving Indigenous perspectives, pedagogies, and protocols.
  • Nurture sacred kinship with land and its inhabitants and actively integrate them into your ways of knowing, being and doing.
  • Explore and Embody wholistic learning that acknowledges and honours diversity and belonging.  


Classes run in the Fall, Spring, and Summer terms of the academic year during the 2-year program.

Year 1

Fall 2023 (September - December)

  • Foundations of Teacher Inquiry
  • Indigenous Worldviews and Orientations of Indigenous Education

Spring 2024 (January - April)

  • Indigenous Pedagogies and Wholistic Approaches to Teaching Learning
  • Field Studies (Practitioner Inquiry)

Summer 2024 (April - June, August)

  • Deepening Practice in Indigenous Place-Based Pedagogies
  • Field Studies (Practitioner Inquiry)

You also attend a one-week Summer Institute each year (August 19-23, 2024 & August 18-22, 2025). No classes scheduled in July.

Year 2

Fall 2024 (September - December)

  • Fostering Reciprocal Relationships Within Learning Communities
  • Field Studies (Practitioner Inquiry)

Spring 2025 (January - April)

  • Creative Ecologies, Storywork, Art Making and Circle Processes
  • Field Studies (Practitioner Inquiry)

Summer 2025 (April - June, August)

  • Reflections on Teaching and Learning
  • Education for Transformative Learning Communities

You also attend a one-week Summer Institute each year (August 19-23, 2024 & August 18-22, 2025). No classes scheduled in July.


Faculty Members

District Partners

  • Síyameythal-Rose Greene, District Principal - Indigenous and Equity Education, SD 44
  • Rob Smyth, District Principal ISS - Indigenous Education, SD 41


Where can this program take you? The world is changing rapidly and so is the full range of career and academic opportunities that await. 

TQS Upgrades

Completion of the diploma allows educators to move from TQS category 4 to 5 or from category 5 to 5+.

Further Studies

Use the credits you've earned completing your GDE program towards earning a Master of Education in Educational Practice (MEd EP). Learn more about the one-year MEd EP program.


Curious to know more about the program?