Indigenous Conditions for Cultural Continuity: Designing Local Climate Change Adaptations in the Pluriverse

  • Author / Creator
    Wolfstone, Irene Wiens Friesen
  • This dissertation project builds on the hope expressed by United Nations Secretary-General Guterres that a new world is taking shape as young people push their elders to do what is right in response to climate change. The goal of this research is to contribute new knowledge to facilitating literacy for climate change adaptations. Modernity’s failure to prepare for climate change adaptation is entangled with Modernity’s problems of domination, climate illiteracy, necropolitics, intolerance, and greed. Loss of literacy, a marker of degeneration in the climate cycle, now manifests in Modernity as climate change disavowal, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and anti-science sentiments.
    This critical transdisciplinary study integrates Indigenous Knowledges, ecofeminist philosophy, Decolonial Theory, Critical Ecopedagogy as well as published research by critical anthropologists. Key assumptions are that without coloniality, there would be no Modernity and that without coloniality, there would be no Anthropogenic Climate Change. I use two research methodologies: Bacchi’s critical policy analysis approach and Kovach’s Indigenous methodology of re-storying.
    In seeking adaptation solutions, I look to Indigenous cultures whose unparalleled longevity indicates adaptive capacity. I work with the following Indigenous conditions for cultural continuity that contribute to their cultural longevity: caring relationality with Land and interspecies kin, living the cosmology of the Land, regenerating, sharing, welcoming difference, and intentional remembering of cultural memories.
    In a review of Senior Years Social Studies curricula, I found that curricula are silent on Indigenous conditions for cultural continuity, adaptations to past climate change events, and adaptations to local climate risks. I refer to these exclusions as dropped threads. Curricular silence on climate change adaptation has serious implications. If curricula do not name and expose anthropocentrism as a system of dominating Land, it cannot be interrogated and remains hidden in the curriculum. If curricula do not deconstruct the link between anthropocentrism, capitalism, and climate change, then sustainability education is a greenwash for business-as-usual. If curricula remain silent on adaptations to past climate events, then youth are unprepared to design adaptations based on what was possible in the past.
    Concluding that climate illiteracy is embedded in hegemonic curricula that reproduce Modernity/ coloniality, I turned to Critical Ecopedagogy as an approach to facilitate literacy for local climate change adaptations in the pluriverse. The principles of Critical Ecopedagogy are congruent with Indigenous conditions for cultural continuity in that they include earth-centeredness, affective relationality with Land, respect for regenerative forces, and learning from the past. Critical Ecopedagogy responds to the climate crisis by preparing learners to engage in collective agency for long-term, large-scale systems change in cyclical time.
    Applying the principles of Critical Ecopedagogy, I created a primer for informal learning about designing local climate change adaptations. The primer methodically weaves in the 30 dropped threads, suppressed knowledge of past climate events, and subjugated knowledges of sharing economies, matricultures, and earth-centered philosophies. The primer is designed for youth, climate activists, transgressive educators, climate change coordinators in public institutions, and concerned grandparents like me. It critiques Modernity/coloniality’s systems of domination, particularly anthropocentrism, and facilitates deModernizing, which disinvests from Modernity/coloniality by becoming ecocentric and becoming agentic in the pluriverse. Learning about adaptations to past climate change events expands imagination for designing adaptations based on what was possible in the past. The primer prepares learners to participate in the large-scale changes already underway: a cosmological shift, economic plurality, and regenerative cultures.
    This study is significant for contributing to literacy for local climate change adaptations. It is unique for its ecocentric perspective, for drawing on Indigenous Knowledges, and for exposing anthropocentrism as the crux of the problem of Anthropogenic Climate Change.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2023
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.