The Importance of "Love" in Authentic Decolonization Work and SoTL Practice


  • Courtney Gariepy Mount Royal University
  • Carolyn Bjartveit Mount Royal University



decolonization, love, ethical space, traditional protocol, SoTL practice


The definition of “decolonization” is contextual and relational, and it holds multiple meanings (de Oliveira Andreotti et al., 2015; Battiste, 2013; Smith, 2012), but it is seldom associated with the term “love.” This article explores how creating “ethical spaces” (Ermine, 2007) for engagement with Indigenous partners and community organizations has helped Bachelor of Child Studies (BCST) students at Mount Royal University (MRU) to understand the deeper meaning of decolonization and its connection to love in the context of academic and professional practices. During the 2021/22 academic year, four students collaborated with their professor and a community partner, Wee Wild Ones (WWO), a nature-inspired school, on decolonizing the organization’s early childhood education curriculum. The teachings of Elders and knowledge holders at MRU and within the wider community challenged the students’ understanding of decolonization and shifted their focus from an efficiency driven, goal-directed project approach towards building authentic relationships rooted in love, respect, and inclusivity. This article explores the meaning and role of love in the context of student-community partnerships, decolonization work, and scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) practice.



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Author Biographies

Courtney Gariepy, Mount Royal University

completed a Bachelor of Child Studies degree at Mount Royal University in 2023 and has a diverse background in child studies. She is Michif Iskwe and is passionate about pursuing the ongoing work of decolonization and Indigenization within early childhood education and post-secondary settings. 

Carolyn Bjartveit, Mount Royal University

is an Associate Professor in the Department of Child Studies and Social Work at Mount Royal University. Her research focuses on human rights, social justice, topics of teaching and learning, and the complex intersections of the self of students and educators with the curriculum in culturally diverse post-secondary classrooms.