D is for Decolonize: Understanding Historical Injustices for a More Inclusive Future

a broad set of social, political, and intellectual movements aimed at dismantling and challenging the lasting effects of colonialism.

D is for Decolonize: Understanding Historical Injustices for a More Inclusive Future

Welcome to our IDEA Glossary series, where we discuss important terminology related to inclusion, diversity, equity, and access within a Canadian context. Today, we look into a critical topic that resonates deeply with indigenous communities and marginalized groups worldwide: Decolonization.

The term “decolonize” refers to a broad set of social, political, and intellectual movements aimed at dismantling the lasting effects of colonialism. It centres on efforts to challenge the dominant narratives, power structures, and systems of knowledge that perpetuate colonial legacies and unequal relationships between colonizers and colonized peoples.

Decolonization seeks to address the historical and ongoing injustices experienced by Indigenous peoples (and historically marginalized communities) as a result of colonial rule. The critical thing to remember when it comes to colonialism is that it’s not one historical event; colonialism’s impact comes from centuries of exploitation, forced assimilation, and dispossession, which have disrupted Indigenous ways of life and eroded cultural heritage. 

“Decolonization requires non-Indigenous Canadians to recognize and accept the reality of Canada’s colonial history, accept how that history paralyzed Indigenous Peoples, and how it continues to subjugate Indigenous Peoples. Decolonization requires non-Indigenous individuals, governments, institutions and organizations to create the space and support for Indigenous Peoples to reclaim all that was taken from them. ” [Indigenous Corporate Training INC]

One act of decolonization for Indigenous communities is called Cultural Revitalization; this can include reclaiming languages, traditions, and knowledge systems. Art, music, literature, and cultural practices play pivotal roles in this resurgence, fostering pride and connection to ancestral roots. Other acts of decolonization for non-Indigenous individuals include:

  • Structural Change and Institutional Reform:
    Recognizing indigenous governance, land rights, and resource management practices. Initiatives for inclusive decision-making, representation, and power-sharing are vital steps toward dismantling colonial hierarchies and promoting equity.
  • Land and Resource Rights:
    Acknowledging treaties, land acknowledgments, and restitution efforts to address historical injustices and support environmental stewardship.
  • Social Justice and Equity:
    Addressing racial, gender, and economic inequalities, intersectional solidarity, allyship, and anti-oppressive practices. Truth and reconciliation processes are pivotal for acknowledging past wrongs, promoting healing, and fostering inclusive futures.
  • Education and Awareness:
    Creating decolonization-aware curriculum in schools, challenging colonial narratives, promoting critical consciousness and building respectful relationships while understanding diverse perspectives.

 In addition to addressing historical injustices, decolonization focuses on present-day power dynamics and the persistence of colonial structures. It seeks to challenge systemic racism, economic exploitation, and social inequalities that continue to disadvantage people today and requires us to listen, learn, and act in solidarity with Indigenous communities. 

By challenging and subverting colonial paradigms, decolonization fosters spaces for diverse voices, histories, and knowledge systems to thrive, promoting a more inclusive and respectful world.

Thank you for joining us on this exploration of ‘D is for Decolonization.’ Stay tuned for more insights and discussions on inclusion, diversity, equity, and access in our upcoming blog posts.

Remember, the journey towards a decolonized future begins with understanding our past and committing to creating a more just and inclusive world for all.



I’ve included some resources that may be helpful in your journey to learning about Decolonization. These sources are rooted in Canadian experiences and offer perspectives and recommendations for decolonization efforts within Canada. They contribute to ongoing discussions and actions regarding Indigenous rights, reconciliation, and social justice.

  1. “Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada” by Chelsea Vowel 
    This book provides a comprehensive overview of Indigenous issues in Canada, including discussions on Decolonization.
  2. “The Right to be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic, and the Whole Planet” by Sheila Watt-Cloutier
    This memoir discusses the impacts of colonialism and climate change on Indigenous communities in Canada’s Arctic and advocates for environmental justice and Indigenous rights.
  3. “Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call” by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson 
    This book examines colonization’s historical and ongoing impacts on Indigenous peoples in Canada. It offers insights into decolonization strategies and resistance movements.
  4. “Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization” by Peter McFarlane and Nicole Schabus
    This manual provides practical guidance and tools for individuals and communities seeking to engage in decolonization efforts, including in the Canadian context.
  5. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) Reports 
    The TRC’s final reports and recommendations offer valuable insights into the history of colonization, the legacy of residential schools, and pathways for reconciliation and Decolonization in Canada.
  6. Indigenous Environmental Justice Resources from Indigenous Climate Action 
    Indigenous Climate Action has a series of publications and resources that discuss environmental justice issues facing Indigenous communities in Canada.


Do you have any questions, comments or thoughts on Decolonization? Leave a comment below, and let’s discuss.

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