Decolonizing Teaching: An Integrated Seminar Series and Grants Program

In the last two years, the Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines (ISTLD) has received an increasing number of applications to its Teaching and Learning Development Grants program for projects that incorporate Indigenous topics, issues, perspectives or ways of knowing into SFU courses. In response to this trend and the caution from SFU’s Aboriginal community, “Nothing about us, without us”, the ISTLD announces a pilot offering of Decolonizing Teaching: An Integrated Seminar Series and Grants Program, funded by SFU's Vice-President, Academic.

Through this seminar series we hope to avoid the concerns expressed by the Aboriginal Reconciliation Council, “Decolonizing curricula and incorporating Indigenous knowledge may be difficult for non-Indigenous faculty, and well intentioned but misguided efforts may in fact cause harm” (p. 6, ARC executive summary).

Participants will:

  • Gain critical background knowledge related to the process of decolonizing teaching
  • Craft a project proposal for implementing and evaluating the changes they wish to make to their teaching
  • Receive feedback from fellow seminar participants and facilitators on their designs
  • Receive up to $6000 to support their design and evaluation work
  • Receive support finding research assistants to help them with their design and evaluation work
  • Receive on-going administrative, curricular and research support from the ISTLD team throughout the implementation of their projects

Topics covered

  • History of Colonialism in Canada
  • An overview of the Indian Act and changes to it over time
  • An overview of Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report and Calls to Action
  • Troubling common Canadian conceptions of multiculturalism
  • Myths and realities of Indigenous Peoples
  • Settler identity and colonialism
  • The intersection of the above themes with disciplinary knowledge, topics and concerns
  • The pedagogical and curricular implications of the above themes, especially as they relate to participants’ projects
  • Techniques for facilitating discussions among students related to the above themes
  • Means of evaluating the teaching changes participants intend to implement, including teaching and learning investigation design as well as data collection and analysis approaches appropriate to each project

Time commitment and workload

  • Participants will meet 6 times for 3 hours each between February 2018 and June 2018.
  • Meetings will be scheduled biweekly.
  • Participants will read 2-3 books and between 5 and 10 papers.
  • Milloy, John S. (1999). A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press (300 pages) will need to be read before the first meeting.

We will have limited spots open in this pilot due to both funding limits and a desire to make sure all voices have opportunity to be heard during the discussions. We will maintain a waitlist to gauge interest and to schedule future offerings.

How to register to participate

To register, please complete the Decolonizing Teaching: An Integrated Seminar Series and Grants Program in initial form (docx). Completed forms should be sent to by Friday, December 15, 2017, 4:00 pm.

Target audience

SFU faculty (lecture or tenure track) with a continuing appointment who:

  • already have some idea of the kinds of changes they want to make in their courses;
  • are willing to engage in critical and sometimes unsettling reading and dialogue about Canada’s colonial past and present, and how to accomplish their plans as it relates to their curricular and pedagogical designs. 

We will be choosing one option among the following possible  times based on the schedules of those who express interest:



Day of week    



Option 1


9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.                          

Feb 27, Mar 13, Mar 27, May 8, May 22, Jun 5

Option 2


1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.                     

Feb 27, Mar 13, Mar 27, May 8, May 22, Jun 5

Option 3


9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Feb 21, Mar 7, Mar 21, Apr 4, May 9, May 23

If you cannot meet any of the time options listed above, you may still apply in order to be put on our waitlist and receive information about future offerings.

Facilitation team


Dolores van der Wey     

Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education and Episkenew Fellow for the ISTLD. She is a member of the Haida Nation with expertise in curriculum development and theory and many years of experience teaching courses to in-service and future teachers that address critical issues in education, including Indigenous education. She is well-versed in both the relevant literature as well as experienced at facilitating the efforts of instructors attempting to incorporate Indigenous content, issues, or perspectives into their courses.   



Sheri Fabian                   

Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Director for the ISTLD. With nearly 15 years of experience doing contract research to validate claims for residential school survivors, Sheri brings this unique perspective and understanding into her teaching practice. Her current focus on pedagogical approaches to decolonizing and Indigenizing our classes includes a grant that supports a community-based collaborative action research project to examine the experiences of Indigenous students at SFU.

Laura D’Amico

Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Education and Research Associate for the ISTLD. With over 20 years of experience in the development and study of systems for supporting and implementing educational improvement and reform, Laura provides faculty with practical advice on how to conduct their project evaluations. She is versed in a wide-range of educational research methods and approaches.