The Indigenous Voices staff and faculty development initiative is a collaborative effort of the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness (GMCTE) and the College of Education. Programming is presently being piloted in these units before expanding to a broader university audience (hopefully) next year. The goal of this programming is to increase the capacity of our faculty and staff to engage respectfully with Indigenous people and perspectives in their personal and professional lives. The purpose of this blog is to bring the questions and issues raised in the program’s gatherings into a larger discussion. This first entry, though, provides some background and context for the program.
Faculty members in the College of Education initially proposed this program to address the fact that “Canadian universities are not doing enough to educate future teachers on issues of power theory, cognitive imperialism, and anti-oppressive education” (Battiste, 2008). The greater emphasis on Indigenous people, knowledge, and ways of knowing in Saskatchewan’s recently revised K-12 curricula also underscores the need to enhance the College’s capacity to provide relevant support to pre-service teachers.
The GMCTE and ULC are similarly aiming to strengthen their ability to assist instructors, departments and colleges that are interested in bringing Indigenous perspectives into their teaching, programming, and disciplinary communities. This work is an essential part of ‘Indigenizing the academy,’ a process through which universities become “places where the values, principles, and modes of organization and behavior of [Indigenous] people are respected [and] integrated into the larger system of structures and processes that make up the university itself” (Alfred, 2004).
The use of the butterfly as a symbol for Indigenous Voices resulted from an Elders gathering that was held to name the project. The butterfly appeared in a number of forms during the gathering. Inuvaluit Elder Fred Nulamaloak described the process we were engaged in as a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, beautiful and almost ready to fly. One of the diagrams drawn during the discussion also took a shape similar to the form of a butterfly.
ekosi pitama (That’s it for now)!