5.3: Key Principles for Indigenous Pedagogies

First Peoples Principles of Learning

There are many elements to address regarding access to and permission to use Indigenous knowledge. The First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC)(opens in a new tab) in British Columbia, with the input of Indigenous Elders, scholars and knowledge keepers, created the First Peoples Principles of Learning. While these principles are not exhaustive, they provide an informed approach to implementing Indigenous Pedagogies in post-secondary education in Ontario.

The nine principles are detailed below (First Nations Education Steering Committee, n.d.):

  • Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits and the ancestors.
  • Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships and a sense of place).
  •  Learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions.
  • Learning involves generational roles and responsibilities.
  • Learning recognizes the role of Indigenous knowledge.
  • Learning is embedded in memory, history and story.
  • Learning involves patience and time.
  • Learning requires exploration of one’s identity.
  • Learning involves recognizing that some knowledge is sacred and only shared with permission and/or in certain situations.

The following videos, Key Principles with Indigenous Pedagogies – Part 1 [6:00] and Key Principles with Indigenous Pedagogies – Part 2  [6:32], go into this information in more detail:

Personal and Holistic Pedagogies 

According to Antoine et al. (2018), “the principle of holism is linked to that of relationality, as Indigenous thought focuses on the whole picture because everything within the picture is related and cannot be separated”.

Watch the video The Importance of Personal and Holistic Learning [7:09] where Jaimie shares her story in this respect.

Activity 3: Self Reflection 

Reflect on the First Peoples Principles of Learning presented in this section and try to connect them to your teaching and/or learning experiences. Jot down answers to the following prompts:

  • What commonalities have you noticed between these principles and your experience of post-secondary education in Ontario?
  • Can you see overlaps between these principles and the CAST UDL Guidelines (website)(opens in a new tab)?
  • What differences are you able to see between how you were taught and how Indigenous Peoples may have experienced learning?
  • What areas do you still need to explore further and why?
  • How does this reflection activity make you feel?

You are invited to record your reflection in the way that works best for you, which may include writing, drawing, creating an audio or video file, mind map or any other method that will allow you to document your ideas and refine them at the end of this module.

Alternatively, a text-based note-taking space is provided below. Any notes you take here remain entirely confidential and visible only to you. Use this space as you wish to keep track of your thoughts, learning, and activity responses. Download a text copy of your notes before moving on to the next page of the module to ensure you don’t lose any of your work!


Antoine, A., Mason, R., Mason, R., Palahicky, S., & Rodriguez de France, C. (2018). Pulling together: A guide for curriculum developers. BCcampus.

First Nations Education Steering Committee. (n.d.). First peoples principles of learning. Retrieved December 17, 2021, from http://www.fnesc.ca/first-peoples-principles-of-learning/


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