Dwayne Donald

Professor, Faculty of Education - Secondary Education Dept


Professor, Faculty of Education - Secondary Education Dept
(780) 492-5639
445 Education Centre - South
11210 - 87 Ave NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2G5



Dwayne Donald was born and raised in Edmonton and is a descendent of the Papaschase Cree. His Blackfoot named is Aipioomahkaa (Long Distance Runner). Dwayne is the son of Allen and Darlene, husband to Georgina, father to Kesho, and uncle to Taryn, Taylor, Kennedy, Kristofer, Sarah, Marshall, Breanne and Lauren.

Dwayne has earned the following academic degrees: Bachelor of Arts (Alberta), Bachelor of Education (Calgary), Master of Education (Lethbridge), and PhD (Alberta). His Master’s thesis work at the University of Lethbridge was done under the supervision of Dr. Cynthia Chambers. The manuscript, titled Elder, Student, Teacher: A Kainai Curriculum Métissage, can be accessed via the following link: http://www.uleth.ca/dspace/bitstream/10133/147/3/MQ83749.pdf

Dwayne’s doctoral dissertation work at the University of Alberta was done under the supervision of Dr. David Geoffrey Smith. The manuscript, titled The Pedagogy of the Fort: Curriculum, Aboriginal-Canadian Relations, and Indigenous Métissage, focuses on the fort as a mythic symbol deeply embedded within the story of Canadian nation and nationality that teaches and naturalizes a divisive and dispiriting civilizational divide separating Aboriginal peoples and Canadians. Dwayne’s central argument in the dissertation is that that universities, schools, classrooms, curriculum scholars, educators, and curriculum documents typically replicate these fort teachings when considering the possible significance of Indigenous peoples and knowledge systems to contemporary educational contexts.

Dwayne’s career as an educator began in the Mathare Valley slums of Nairobi, Kenya. He had the privilege to work alongside Kenyans with the Mathare Youth Sports Association while living in Nairobi. After returning to Canada in 1993, Dwayne began teaching social studies and English at Kainai High School on the Kainai (Blood) Reserve in southern Alberta. This experience changed his life. The opportunity to learn from Kainai Elders and community leaders has had a tremendous influence on Dwayne’s interests and commitments as a curriculum thinker. In 2003, Dwayne and family moved back home to Edmonton to begin doctoral studies at the University of Alberta. He accepted an academic position in the Faculty of Education in 2007.


Dwayne’s primary research commitments focus on the particular problem presented to Canadian educators and curricularists by the recent decision of provincial policy makers to introduce curriculum initiatives that require teacher and student engagement with Aboriginal concerns and priorities. These research commitments are shaped by emerging understandings of Plains Cree and Blackfoot philosophies that provide insight into Aboriginal-Canadian relations and the tensions often at play when Aboriginal peoples and their concerns are discussed in classroom contexts. Dwayne attends to the colonial character of these relations and believes that engaging educators in a critical genealogical excavation of this colonial terrain, as a way to help them better understand the deeply influential colonial frontier logics that inform it, will promote more ethical classrooms engagements with Aboriginal perspectives. To view a lecture Dwayne gave at the University of Lethbridge (July 2010) titled: 'On what terms can we speak? Aboriginal-Canadian relations as a curricular and pedagogical imperative,' click on this link.

Dwayne is also committed to research that attends to place and story as these are remembered and enacted by Plains Cree and Blackfoot peoples today. He is particularly interested in promoting a particular kind of ecological imagination that would encourage Canadians to rethink, reframe, and reimagine the places that they call home and, by extension, reimagine their relationships with Aboriginal peoples. This work seeks to trouble the presumed finality provided by maps of Canada through deep consideration of the significance of Indigenous notions of sovereignty, place, story, and the possibility that we might ‘map’ territory according to different priorities and affiliations. To read a story of a class field trip to the Ribstones site in May 2010, click on this link.

In doing this work, Dwayne follows a decolonizing research sensibility called Indigenous Métissage. Indigenous Métissage is inspired by Plains Cree and Blackfoot philosophical insights that emphasize contextualized and place-based ecological interpretations of ethical forms of relationality. These influences come together to support the emergence of a decolonizing research sensibility that provides a way to hold together the ambiguous, layered, complex, and conflictual character of Aboriginal-Canadian relations without the need to deny, assimilate, hybridize, or conclude. It describes a particular way to pay attention to these tensions and bring their ambiguous and difficult character to expression through researching and writing.

If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies in education on these topics or related issues, please contact Dwayne directly at dwayne.donald@ualberta.ca.


Courses Taught

Invited instructor for various Introductory Professional Term and Advanced Professional Term courses that provide students subject area specific preparation for their teaching practicums. I provide expertise for teaching and learning from Aboriginal perspectives.

EDES 409: Aboriginal Curriculum Perspectives
EDSE 504: Curriculum Inquiry
EDSE 401: Indigenous Wisdom Traditions, Place-Based Pedagogy, and Aboriginal Curriculum Perspectives


EDSE 409 - Indigenous Curriculum and Pedagogy

This course is designed to help educators better understand and interpret the significance of recent curricular initiatives in Alberta and across Canada that emphasize Indigenous perspectives across subject areas and grade levels. The class will consider the philosophies and wisdom traditions of Indigenous knowledge systems and the curricular and pedagogical implications of these. The class will also focus in on particular subject area concerns, individually and collectively, and consider the critical contributions that Indigenous knowledge systems and perspectives could play in these classroom contexts. One of the unifying messages of this course is that Indigenous curriculum perspectives provide a unique opportunity for teachers to creatively rethink and reframe their approaches to teaching and learning. Credit may only be obtained for one of EDSE 409 or EDES 409.

Browse more courses taught by Dwayne Donald

Scholarly Activities

Research - Publications

Refereed Articles

Donald, D (2009, Spring). Forts, Curriculum, and Indigenous Métissage: Imagining Decolonization of Aboriginal-Canadian Relations in Educational Contexts. First Nations Perspectives: The Journal of the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre, 2 (1), 1-24. Available online at: http://www.mfnerc.org/images

Johnston, I., Carson, T., Richardson, G., Donald, D., Plews, J. & Kim, M. (2009). Awareness, Discovery, Becoming, and Debriefing: Promoting Cross-Cultural Pedagogical Understanding in an Undergraduate Education Program. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 55(1), 1-17.

Donald, D. (2004). Edmonton Pentimento: Rereading History in the Case of the Papaschase Cree. Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, 2(1), Spring, 21-54.

Donald, D., Hasebe-Ludt, E., & Chambers, C. (2002). Creating a Curriculum of Métissage. Educational Insights, 7(2). Available online: http://www.ccfi.educ.ubc.ca/publication

Book Chapters

Donald, D. (2009). The curricular problem of Indigenousness: Colonial frontier logics, teacher resistances, and the acknowledgment of ethical space. In J. Nahachewsky and I. Johnston (Eds.). Beyond Presentism: Re-Imagining the Historical, Personal, and Social Places of Curriculum (pp. 23-39). Rotterdam/Boston/Taipei: Sense Publishers.

Chambers, C., Hasebe-Ludt, E., Donald, D., Hurren, W., Leggo, C. & Oberg, A. (2008). Métissage. In A. Cole (Ed). Handbook of the Arts in Qualitative Research: Perspectives, Methodologies, Examples, and Issues. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, pp. 141-153.

Book Reviews

Donald, D. (October 2006). Canada and Its Indigenous Peoples: Resistance or Engagement? Review of Alfred, T. (2005). Wasáse: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom and Turner, D. (2006). This Is Not a Peace Pipe: Towards a Critical Indigenous Philosophy in Literary Review of Canada, 14(8), 8-10.

Selected Presentations

On What Terms Can We Speak? Aboriginal-Canadian Relations as a Curricular and Pedagogical Imperative. Invited Lecture, Faculty of Education Graduate Studies, University of Lethbridge July 2010. D. Donald.

 ‘Do They Like Indians?’ Exploring Tensions and Ambiguities Associated with Teaching and Learning from Indigenous Standpoints. Canadian Association for the Study of Education (CSSE) Conference. Montreal, Quebec May 2010. D. Donald.

Learning from Difficult Knowledge: Curriculum and Pedagogical Challenges of Truth and Reconciliation. Canadian Association for the Study of Education (CSSE) Conference. Montreal, Quebec May 2010. T. Carson, D. Donald.

aoksisowaato’p ki aokakio’ssin: Imagining Organic Curriculum for Relational Renewal. Globalization, Diversity & Education Conference. Spokane, Washington. February 2010. C. Chambers, E. Hasebe-Ludt, R. Big Head, D. Donald.

Curriculum, Colonial Frontier Logics, and Ethical Relationality. The Third World Curriculum Studies Conference. Somerset West, South Africa, September 2009. D. Donald.

Learning from Difficult Knowledge: Aboriginal Peoples, Truth and Reconciliation, and Canadians. The Third World Curriculum Studies Conference. Somerset West, South Africa, September 2009. T. Carson and D. Donald. 

Peace and Ecological Imagination: Learning from land, place, and story. Invited public address sponsored by theSummer Institute 2009: Building Peaceful Communities. Edmonton, Alberta. July, 2009. D. Donald

Forts, Curriculum, and Indigenous Métissage. National Panel Keynote Address: Provoking Curriculum Conference. Ottawa, Ontario. May 2009. D. Donald 

Curricular and Pedagogical Intents: Aboriginal Perspectives, Social Studies, and Teacher Education. Canadian Association for the Study of Education (CSSE) Conference. Ottawa, Ontario. May 2009. K. den Heyer, D. Donald

The Curricular Problem of Indigenousness. Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) Conference. University of British Columbia June 2008. D. Donald 

On the Fluxic Nature of Openness and Closure: Frontiers, Forts and the Indigenous Experience with Civilization and Development. Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) Conference. University of British Columbia June 2008. D. Donald

Featured Publications

Johnston, I., Carson, T., Richardson, G., Donald, D., Plews, J. & Kim, M.

Alberta Journal of Educational Research. 2009 January; 55 (1):1-17

Donald, D

First Nations Perspectives: The Journal of the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre. 2009 January; 2 (1):1-24

Donald, D.

2009 January;

Chambers, C., Hasebe-Ludt, E., Donald, D., Hurren, W., Leggo, C. & Oberg, A

2008 January;

Donald, D.

Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies. 2 (1):21-54