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Decolonizing Educational Relationships

Decolonizing Educational Relationships.

September 1 2019 – May 7 2021

Awarded to: Professor Fatima Pirbhai-Illich

Research partners: University of Regina with University of Exeter

Funding awarded to Exeter $5000 CDN

Sponsor(s): University of Regina General Research Fund

Principal investigator: Fatima Pirbhai-Illich
Co-Investigator: Fran Martin

About the project

This proposed investigation is to conduct a follow-up research study with teachers who took part in a Culturally Responsive Literacy Education course between 2009-2019. Using philosophical traditions from both the global north and the global south, the concepts of invitation & hospitality, and spaces, places & boundaries (Pirbhai-Illich & Martin, 2017) were used as part of a decolonial pedagogical imaginary. The pre-service teachers put these ideas into practice when tutoring a student from a minoritized and marginalized community. Our previous studies demonstrate that the course content supports the start of a journey towards teacher participants decolonizing their practice, but we do not know whether they continue with this journey on entering the profession. This study therefore focuses on whether the ideas have been sustained in practice as they have entered the profession. 

Research questions:

1. How have teachers, who participated in ERDG 425 between 2009-2019, put what they learned about decolonizing educational relationships into practice in their classrooms?

2. What opportunities and challenges have they found to create spaces for decolonizing educational relationships?


In keeping with the decolonial focus of the work, rather than conducting ‘interviews’ we will have research conversations with participants. Discussions will focus on the opportunities and challenges participants have experienced as they have (or perhaps have not) attempted to think and be ‘otherwise’ in their practice as an educator; the ways in which they have (or have not) been able to decolonize their educational relationships; and the knowledges that they have included in their curriculum. 


The findings from this study will (1) add knowledge to our understanding of the feasibility of working in decolonial and Indigenous ways with regards to its transferability into the K-12 system and (b) through educational policy, possibly impact change in pedagogical and content practices in the K-12 system; and (c) provide ways for educators in higher education to engage in decolonial approaches to education.