Teaching Immigration for Reconciliation: A Pedagogical Commitment with a Difference

Soma Chatterjee


This essay takes as its point of departure the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s recommendations for facilitating understanding of reconciliation between “Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians,” specifically, the recommendations meant to educate newcomers/immigrants about Indigenous issues. While these and similar educational initiatives deeply inform reconciliation measures across public post-secondary institutions, I suggest that the disconnect between immigrants and Indigenous peoples has more to it than mere lack of education, and that their relationship is better conceptualized as a series of tensions between land and labour rights that reproduces settler colonial capitalist nationalism. I further suggest the post-secondary classrooms as important sites for working with these tensions. In this essay I discuss a fourth-year social work elective course on immigration where I attempted to explicitly engage with some of these tensions and their productive role in settler colonial nationalism. I conclude with some thoughts on what moving beyond education for reconciliation could look like in our teaching on immigration, with specific recommendations for the discipline of social work in which such a pedagogical shift is long overdue.


Immigration; Indigenous self-determination; Social Work; Reconciliation; Pedagogy of reconciliation

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