I am currently a 7th year PhD candidate in Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), at the University of Toronto, Canada. My thesis is titled "Decolonizing our Technologies of Knowing: Publishing for the Indigenous Good in the Digital Era" and is supervised by Dr. Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández, along with doctoral committee members Dr. Eve Tuck and Dr. Scott Morgenson. It engages the fields of sociology, settler colonialism & digital humanities, examining the ways in which Indigenous publishers articulate digital strategies that take into account the possibilities and challenges of utilizing digital publishing technologies for furthering decolonization and Indigenous sovereignty. For 2013-2015 I was awarded the Canadian Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship for this work. In the three years since the SSHRC fellowship's completion (2015-2018), I have been awarded the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) for this work.

I also hold a Masters in Education (M.Ed) in Social Justice Education, a Master's certificate in Comparative, International & Development Education - both from the University of Toronto - and a Bachelors of Arts (B.A) in English from the University of Victoria.

I currently live and work with my family as a zhaganash/settler in Tkaronto/Toronto, in Dish with One Spoon Treaty territory, and I am continually learning more about what it means to work for decolonization as a settler on Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee lands.

In 2011 I co-founded one of the premier journals for critical Indigenous and decolonization studies, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society. It is an interdisciplinary, Open Access journal that brings together discussions of Indigenous knowledges and decolonization from around the globe, and innovates and expands the ways in which academic knowledge might be made accessible to broader communities. Decolonization is a collaborative project committed to centring decolonization work grounded in community, activism, and engagement beyond the academy - work produced by a diverse group of scholars, activists, artists and writers from around the globe. The journal has, in a short time, gathered a world-class group of diverse and innovative scholars as members of various Editorial Boards, as well as an engaged and dedicated audience that includes academics, activists, community members, and artists.

Decolonization has published ten journal issues over five years, along with over a hundred other online essays, stories, and reviews on our companion WordPress site. Decolonization continues to grow and develop, informed by a deep commitment to the political work of decolonization and to publishing in ways that are both responsive but also innovating and pushing the boundaries of what scholarly publishing can be and do. In 2013 I was interviewed about the journal; you can listen to that interview here.

I believe in building community, in doing the work of creating and sustaining relationships, and working responsively and accountably the the knowledges, the people, and the places that I engage. My work is intentionally collaborative, and is enriched by the many people I've had the honor to work and build with. I also believe in pursuing creative and generative work, work that seeks to support and build otherwise futures apart from colonialism.

Explore the rest of the site to find out more!






My Recent and Upcoming Speaking Engagements



Ideas I'm Working With

"Different social practices demand that information appear in different forms if that information is to produce a legitimate form of knowledge."

Elizabeth Povinelli (2012)

"How you fight determines who you will be when the battle is over."

Taiaiake Alfred (2009)

"Surviving as a Native person in any colonial situation is a strange mix of refusal, creation, and assertion."

Haunani-Kay Trask (1999)

"An ethic of incommensurability...stands in contrast to aims of reconciliation....Reconciliation is about rescuing settler normalcy, about rescuing a settler future. Reconciliation is concerned with questions of what will decolonization look like? What will happen after abolition? What will be the consequence of decolonization for the settler? Incommensurability acknowledges that these questions need not, and perhaps cannot, be answered in order for decolonization to exist as a framework.

...Decolonization is not obliged to answer those questions - decolonization is not obligated to settlers, or settler futurity. Decolonization is accountable to Indigenous sovereignty and futurity."

Eve Tuck & K. Wayne Yang (2012)

"While discursive categories are clearly central sites of contestation, they must be grounded in and informed by the material politics of everyday life, especially the daily life struggles for survival of...those written out of history."

Chandra Mohanty (2003)

"The idea that technology is neutral is itself not neutral."

Jerry Mander (1991)

"The Indian is a ghost in the system, an errant or virus that disrupts the virtual flows by stopping them, or revealing them to be what they are and will have been all along: colonialist."

Jodi Byrd (2011)

"We [Indigenous people] resist not to overthrow a government or to take political power, but because it is natural to resist extermination, to survive. We don't want power over white institutions; we want white institutions to disappear. That's revolution."

Russel Means (1980)

"The decolonization of our technologies of knowledge...insists on the necessity of transforming not only the use and the product of the technology but also the discursive context that defines what "is" epistemic technology."

Freya Schiwy (2009)

Decolonize Your Mind2


Most Recent Post

This is Not Quit Lit

BY Eric Ritskes / Education / 0 COMMENTS

This is not quit lit. I am not quitting.

It has taken me a long time to come to this point, to feel like I am not quitting. I am choosing something else and sometimes moving forward means leaving something behind. I am choosing a different direction, a different career, a different space to work and engage in. I am leaving my PhD behind.

When I try to articulate why I am making this decision, there are so many thoughts, emotions and stories but always so few words which to articulate them with. My mind races, thoughts tumble and jumble about, my heart races and I stumble through words that don’t ever seem to fit. But each time, these scattered half-thoughts come back to this simple idea: choosing to leave my PhD is about health, in a very broad and holistic sense.

I want to be healthy and I have not found a way to do this in this academic system. Many others have found ways to maintain their health in this system, other shoulder ill health as long as they can, but I am unable to. I tried, to the best of my abilities, but I couldn’t. The precarity (financial and otherwise), the lack of support systems, the competitiveness, the busyness, the isolation, the prioritization of extractive relationality that permeates academic environments, the diminishing career opportunities… whatever it was, cumulatively, it was a space that took my mental health, emotional health, and physical health from me. Ironically, one of the reasons I began a PhD was my love of learning but, in the process, I forgot to learn how to take care of myself. So, now I am pursuing health by removing myself from academia. This is about me and learning how to take care of my whole self. This is about finding new healthy relationships to work and struggle, as well as family, love, and just being.

I am leaving behind something that I pursued relentlessly, something that I believed would be my career, and something in which I invested an exceedingly large amount of energy, time, finances, and passion. It is not an easy decision and it is one that can still wrap my head up in guilt, doubt, shame, and fear. But, as my therapist tells me, I am a relational, emotionally driven person – I need to listen to my emotions, my feelings, and honor what I feel is right for me. And I feel done. I feel depleted. I feel disconnected. I feel ready to move on, ready to choose something that is healthier.

There are so many things that the academy is not and will never be no matter how we might hope to rework or reclaim it. There are many things that it asks you to do and to be. Still, I am grateful for those who continue to struggle to transform these academic spaces, they were a life raft for me during the past nine years. I know they are indeed out there changing structures that are resistant to change. But I am choosing to spend my time and energy elsewhere. This is not a conclusion, nor is it a last word. I am journeying on, continuing the struggle. I will continue to learn, to read, to write, to support, to teach, to create, and to be. But in different ways. I am still plodding away, trying to be/come a better person. In this, I am insistent.

My life currently feels like a giant mess and I have no clue what the next step holds. I want to be able to feel good again, to feel supported, to feel part of a community that is creative, genuine, collaborative and loving. I want to be appreciated, I want to laugh, I want joy, I want to support other’s work, I want to build, I want to breathe. I think this will take time, because it feels so far away at this moment. I look forward to learning how to write again, learning how to talk to people and just hang out again, learning how to laugh again, learning how to be healthy again. It is going to take time to feel better. But I remember what these things felt like. I hope it’s like a riding a bike, that the emotional memory is there so that when I get to that spot, it just feels right and I know how to keep step. Or maybe I have to learn it all over again. Either way, I’m ready. It’s not failure to want these things, to feel for these things, and to try and find these things.

I am reminded of lessons that I am trying to learn from the natural world around me. When plants let go at the end of a season, we call it seeding. When salmon run upstream to die, they spawn the next generation of salmon. Snakes shed their old skin as they grow. The earth often reminds us that for something new to spring forth, something has to be left behind. One step forward, what must be left behind?

I hope that by leaving academia I am not leaving behind the best parts of it, though it is this fear that has delayed my being able to leave. I am afraid of leaving behind the networks and people that I have thought with and fought side by side with. In the midst of all the precarity and bullshit, solidarities were forged and relationships built. The newest Fred Moten text was hotly read and discussed, manifestos were written together, ideas were formed and broken and re-formed, often over coffee or drinks or meals. And yet, it also felt that the academy always seemed to break these relationships down, always intruding; at times, it took away my ability, motivation and desire to relate with others in genuine ways. The precarity impacts us all. So, I look forward to rediscovering these connections and moments without academia’s looming presence.

And I am afraid that I will lose the time and space to read, write, and think in concert with the many brilliant people who informed my thinking, work, and writing for the past nine years of graduate school. But I also know that so many times the academy constrained my writing, took away my time, and forced me to write and think in particular ways. So, I look forward to reimagining these practices, to writing in different ways and to different rhythms.

I don’t know exactly what is next. For the past nine years, I’ve been singular in my focus, believing that focus was needed to succeed in what was a highly competitive space. Now, I can allow myself to breathe and think beyond this single-minded focus.

I want to be able to recognize, despite the difficulty I have in doing so right now, the ways in which the past nine years have been a time of learning, a time of successes, and a time of important and necessary growth. And learning, success, and growth are collective processes, not individual ones. One of the things that I had been most looking forward to in writing a dissertation was writing out my acknowledgements. It was a chance to center and reflect on all the relationships and collaborations that had built a document that, by design, had to have only my name on the front. Knowledge is never built in isolation. Special thanks needs to be said for Rubén Gaztambide-Fernandez and Eve Tuck who have been invaluable mentors; having them in my corner was a gift that I always sought to honor because I knew its immense value. They made me better. As people, as scholars, as teachers – they excelled at it all and the past nine years would not have been possible without them. There have been so many others that have invested in my life and work over these years that I cannot name them all – know that I hold these relationships and commitments closely and that you were the best parts of this grad school process. The very best part.

I am not quitting; I am moving forward and this letter is part of that process. I’m moving forward, hoping to feel my way into a healthy place, into relationships that sustain me, and into creatively building these places with each of you, places where we can all feel healthy, places where we can all thrive in the ways that we need. Thank you for doing that with me.


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