Learning involves recognizing that some knowledge is sacred and only shared with permission and/or in certain situations

Whether or not knowledge is shared depends on the type of knowledge, who holds that knowledge, and the context. Some knowledge is freely shared, while other knowledge is not. Some knowledge is held by specific people, families, clans or communities, and permission must be gained from the holder(s) before it is shared. An example of this are some narratives or “stories” that cannot be retold unless permission is given by the person, family, clan, or nation to whom the story belongs. Being told a story is not implicit permission to retell it, such as reading a story from another culture does not mean one can rewrite it as one’s own.

There is knowledge within various First Peoples communities that is not intended to be shared with people who are not members of the community. These may include specific ceremonial practices that incorporate songs and dances that belong to specific people or families. Many First Nations have long house teachings that happen in traditional ways and these teachings are honoured by not sharing them with people who are not a part of the process.

Relation to Other Educational Theory

Ownership of knowledge is the same is intellectual property. It can be loosely compared to the concept of copyright.

Implications for Classroom and School Include:

  • Ensuring that First Peoples knowledge can be shared before using it. This can mean double checking the source of material (ensuring that that a story was not written down by a non-Indigenous person and published without permission).
  • Asking about what protocols might be attached to specific knowledge or process.
  • Being comfortable with asking respectful questions.
  • Not assuming that Indigenous learners will share all aspects of their home and community lives in the school or classroom.


Relevant Core Competencies

Personal Awareness and Responsibility

  • Includes the skills, strategies, and dispositions that help students to stay healthy and active, set goals, monitor progress, regulate emotions, respect their own rights and the rights of others, manage stress, and persevere in difficult situations. Students who demonstrate personal awareness and responsibility demonstrate self-respect and express a sense of personal well-being (2015, BC Ministry of Education).

Social Responsibility

  • The ability and disposition to consider the interdependence of people with each other and the natural environment; to contribute positively to one’s family, community, society, and the environment; to resolve problems peacefully; to empathize with others and appreciate their perspectives; and to create and maintain healthy
    relationships (2015, BC Ministry of Education).

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