Indigenous Education Leads' Stories of Policy Enactment: A Sociomaterial Inquiry

  • Sarah Burm Dalhousie University


Investing in Indigenous education has been identified as a key priority by provinces and territories across
Canada. In response, the Ontario Ministry of Education (OME) introduced the Ontario First Nation,
Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework (the Framework). This policy directive outlines the OME’s
commitment to working in partnership with Indigenous and non-Indigenous educational stakeholders to
increase the capacity of the public education system to respond to the learning and cultural needs of the
estimated 50,312 Indigenous students who attend Ontario’s 5,000 elementary and secondary schools.
While substantial progress has been made since the Framework’s release, more work is needed to ensure
all students gain an understanding of, and appreciation for, Indigenous cultures, experiences, and perspectives. One way the OME has shown their continued investment is through the sustained allocation of funds
for Indigenous Education Leads (Leads). Since the Framework’s release in 2007, these individuals have
played an invaluable role in supporting the implementation of the Framework. However, little is known
about their lived experiences. Thus, the purpose of this qualitative paper is to share Leads’ stories of policy
enactment, particularly their approaches to fulfilling a provincial mandate that carries with it the legacy
of historical and contemporary trauma and mistrust between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The
principles of Critical Narrative Research (CNR) combined with the sensibilities of Actor-Network Theory
(ANT) are drawn on to foreground how Leads understand their own actions and interactions throughout
the policy implementation process, as well as how they come to understand the actions, interactions, and
intentions of other materialities of practice (e.g., professionals, standardized tests, curricula, bodies, and
routines) within their milieus.