Calling in Outdoor Education to Create Anti-Colonial Change in Canada




Walker, Calvin

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Contemporary Outdoor Education (OE) has been criticized for continuing to operate in ways that uphold settler colonialism, including having taken minimal action in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action (2015b). Despite their advantageous positioning, the voices of organizational leadership in OE have been observed to largely be absent from the anti-colonial conversation. This study strives to contribute to anti-colonial change in OE through calling in three executives representing leadership from national-level, Canadian OE organizations to explore the question: How can OE leadership mobilize their organizations towards meaningful anti-colonial change, specifically in regards to the TRC’s Calls to Action (2015b)? Guided by a narrative methodology informed by anti-colonial theory and critical constructivism, two rounds of semi-structured interviews were conducted. Results highlighted ongoing inaction characterized by unintentional and intentional exemption, sustained by colonial cycles of unawareness, innocence, and ignorance. Several current and future anti-colonial pathways were identified, which target evolving OE and its organizations into spaces that are safe, welcoming, and belonging for Indigenous peoples. An anti-colonial framework for settler OE practitioners and organizations is also proposed. Future research is encouraged to explore Indigenous perspectives of OE as safe, welcoming, and belonging spaces; improving awareness, implication, and accountability throughout the field; and, identifying avenues to bring the field together in anti-colonial action.



Outdoor Education, Decolonization, Reconciliation, Anti-colonial, Organizational Leadership, Calling In