nIshnabek de'bwe wIn / Telling our Truths: Aboriginal Students and Allies Using Technology, Telling Stories, and Making Change


Funding Program:

SSHRC Insight Grant

Funding Amount:


The alienation and marginalization of Aboriginal people from institutions of formal schooling is well documented. Research completed in city of Toronto schools confirms what Aboriginal parents, educators, and students already knew: educational institutions are failing to provide Aboriginal students with the environment and experiences they require to achieve success. Although much is written about Aboriginal students' experiences in schools, little research has been produced that provides Aboriginal students/teachers and non-Aboriginal allies opportunities to tell stories of schooling that contribute to our understanding of Aboriginal student achievement and processes of decolonizing/indigenizing schools. Working in collaboration with four school boards (Toronto, Peel, York, and Waterloo), this project will run digital storytelling workshops for Aboriginal students/teachers and non-Aboriginal allies. The workshops will provide teaching, technical support and the tools for participants to create digital stories about their schooling experiences.

Our aim is to learn from Aboriginal students'/teachers' and allies' experiences of schooling and in the process understand the efficacy of digital storytelling in supporting and advancing processes of decolonizing/indigenizing schools. We are guided by the following questions:

  • What is the value/potential of digital storytelling in contributing to students' critical consciousness of their school experiences and in increasing their school participation, and how do their stories contribute to our understanding of the Aboriginal student achievement gap?
  • What might digital storytelling with Aboriginal educators teach about their experiences and how might their stories and the stories of non-Aboriginal allies contribute to our understanding of processes of decolonizing/indigenizing schools?
  • What do stakeholders learn from viewing digital stories and in what ways do viewing and/or making a digital story impact classroom practices?

The project has three primary objectives:

  • To provide Aboriginal students and teachers with the opportunity to tell their stories, learn technical/creative skills of digital storytelling, and learn/teach about their experiences of being Aboriginal in urban schools;
  • To provide non-Aboriginal teacher/student allies opportunities to learn the skills of digital storytelling, to make stories reflecting on their experiences and to learn/teach about processes of decolonizing school communities; and
  • To build a repository of student, teacher, and staff stories that will be used by the project team for professional development (PD) in schools situated in cities with diverse population densities so as to investigate the impacts of viewing/making digital stories on educators' attitudes and practices, and better understand the complexities of decolonizing education.

The project will create a repository of digital stories to be used to raise awareness about the presence, experiences, and needs of Aboriginal students/teachers and allies in schools; and will advance our understanding of processes for decolonizing and indigenizing schools, ultimately addressing the Aboriginal student achievement gap.