Dr. Shannon Leddy (Métis) is a Vancouver based teacher and writer whose practice focuses on using transformative pedagogies in decolonizing and Indigenizing teacher education. She holds degrees in Art History and Anthropology from the University of Saskatchewan, an MA in Art History, and a BEd from the University of British Columbia. Her PhD research at Simon Fraser University focused on inviting pre-service teachers into dialogue with contemporary Indigenous art as a mechanism of decolonization in order to help them become adept at delivering Indigenous education without reproducing colonial stereotypes. Before arriving at UBC, Shannon taught high school Art, Social Studies, and English. She is currently the Vice President of the Board of Directors at grunt gallery (sic), the Co-Chair of the Institute for Environmental Learning, and a Research Fellow with the Institute for Public Education/BC. She is also a mother and a Nehiyaw/Cree language learner.
As the Course Coordinator for EDUC 440, Indigenous Education in Canada, Shannon continues to work towards the twin goals of decolonizing curriculum and Indigenizing teaching. To that end, she has created the Decolonizing Teaching Indigenizing Learning website for use by EDUC 440 students and the broader faculty. She continues to engage in research that supports her work in Indigenous, transformative, enviroenmental, and anti-racist education, and continues to publish in order to add her work to these growing and interconnected discourses.
What is your most memorable experience from your time in the Faculty of Education?
It seems so long ago now! I recall that it was a hectic and vibrant period of my life with steep learning curves on a few fronts. My time was divided between Secondary Art and Social Studies, so I was always on the go, which I think made my time with the Arts cohort really precious to me. Donna Sheh was our Faculty Advisor, and she created such amazing learning experiences for our group! Probably my favorite activity was watching the film Rivers and Tides about the work of Andy Goldsworthy, and then doing a silent walk outdoors during which we had to collaboratively create an artwork out of natural materials (without killing or hurting anything)…in silence! It was actually one of the most powerful art experiences I have ever had, and I still do a very similar activity with students whenever I can.
Where has your education from the Faculty of Education taken you in your career?
After I graduated in 2005 I was hired on in Richmond and Vancouver, eventually landing my first full-time contract with the VSB in 2009 at David Thompson Secondary. From there I was seconded by SFU to work as an FA for two years, which was another amazing and transformative experience. I returned to the VSB in 2012 to serve as a mini-school coordinator at Windermere Secondary. In 2014 I started a PhD in Arts education at SFU, eventually leaving my position at Windermere in 2017 when I started at UBC, first as a sessional, and then as a faculty member in 2018. It has been a pretty wild ride…and it is not over yet!
Where do issues of inclusion find a place in your life or at work?
I love this question because all of my work is about inclusion! As the Course Coordinator for EDUC 440, Indigenous Education in Canada, I am constantly thinking about how to make space for the work of Indigenous scholars and educators so that it becomes infused in all of our work and thinking, rather than additive. This also means I do a lot of thinking about what it takes to decolonize education, and what Indigenizing our practices might look like, especially for non-Indigenous educators who make up the majority of our student population. This work has taken me to research in other forms of anti-oppressive education, transformative and trauma-informed learning, and Indigenous holistic frameworks, all of which continue to inform and shape my practice and heighten the need for inclusive curriculum and pedagogies across the board.
Do you have any words of wisdom for current students? Newly graduated folks?
Take good care of yourself!! Learning and teaching demand a lot of us. Keeping up with multiple courses and assignments, being emotionally responsive to your students, and trying to manage daily life during a pandemic is A LOT!! Be compassionate with yourself, stay connected to trusted family and friends, and find as many chances as you can to sing and dance and keep joy in your life. And never stop learning!!