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Publication Date

11-2-2019

First Page

91

Last Page

109

Abstract

In the province of Manitoba, Canada, there is a gap between the rhetoric of inclusive education and its practical implementation. In the absence of inclusive educational policies and guidelines, deficit-based approaches such as categorical labels for students who are deemed to have a severe emotional and behavioural disorder, segregated classrooms, and self-contained programs are prevalent and change is needed. This paper provides a critical perspective on how the paradigm of special education contributes to the social construction of disability; how, for Indigenous students, it too often positions behavioural difference as disability; and further, why this practice is systemically discriminatory. In our examination, we seek to expose the exclusion (Slee & Allen, 2001) that exists in nominally inclusive schools as a way to promote social change and redirect education toward truly inclusive practices. To that end, we suggest the following strategies that may reduce educational inequity for Indigenous students: (a) developing clearly articulated inclusive educational policies along with indicators of inclusivity; (b) reporting the number of Indigenous students who are identified as emotionally and behaviourally disordered, and segregated in self-contained settings; (c) establishing needs-based models of support at all levels (e.g., province, division, and school); (d) creating new narratives of assessment and pedagogy; and (e) reconceptualizing teachers’ training. We hope that by critically examining the structures and processes of special education that, in fact, disable Indigenous students from educational success, inclusion might encompass more than a provincial philosophy and include transformative educational change.

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