Fostering Successful Intercultural Group Work: A Summary and Response to article “Rethinking multicultural group work as intercultural learning.”




When I read the above article, I was immediately reminded of an article I read a few years ago, called “’I know the type of people I work well with’: Student anxiety in multicultural group projects.”[1] The authors of that article identify the “cognitive anxiety” and “affective anxiety” of students doing group work with diverse cultural representation within the group (anxieties that seem to be higher among domestic, rather than international students). Each form of anxiety is attributed to “uncertainty…the phenomenon affecting the way we think about strangers” (Strauss, et al, 816). As a result of these anxieties, English-first language speakers were far more likely to, if given the chance to self-select their groups, invite other English-first speakers and to form more homogenous groups. At times, English-first students actually requested not to be put in groups with EAL students, and believed EAL students to be “novices, incompetents or apprentices” [!!] (819). The authors identify that at the time (2011), “there does not seem to be any consensus as to the best way to structure these [diverse linguistic and cultural] student groups” (817).

Returning to the Reid and Garson article, it seems as though they are answering the call and are providing possible strategies for forming functional, multicultural groups. First, I will outline the strengths of the article, but will then highlight some questions and concerns I have. These do not negate the positive aspects of the article, but perhaps will help us dig a little deeper, should we decide to venture into applying Reid’s and Garson’s strategies.

As might be expected, the authors note that it is more likely to achieve culturally diverse groups for group work when they are formed, deliberately, by the instructor. Before placing students in groups, a single intercultural lecture (including activities) was delivered before undertaking their group projects. This lecture included “valuing diversity in teams, exploring the role of stereotypes and assumptions in team selection…and understanding the dimensions of cultural frameworks” (200). In part, this may resolve some of the cognitive and affective anxiety experienced by intercultural group members.

Another strategy was to have each group member write down what they believed to be the top 6 characteristics of a successful group, and on another paper, their own, personal, 4 strengths they brought to the group (200). This, too, should build confidence and competence working together, as students are able to identify different responsibilities based on identified strengths. This exercise should help mitigate “domestic” students’ preconceptions about the contributions of those from a culture other than their own. In addition to collecting this information about groups’ strengths, the instructor also generated a class list with the students’ “country of origin and gender, to form groups that aligned complimentary skills with cultural and gender diversity”(200).

Despite the authors delivering positive results, I do have some concerns about the Reid’s and Garson’s approach, which I think could result in a great conversation. I’ll identify my concerns in point form:

  1. Asking students to self-identify their country of origin risks making cultural generalizations about that student. A student may have been born in Bangladesh and did not leave the country until their university years. Another may have come from Bangladesh when they were 3 months old.
  2. “Domestic” students also come from diverse cultural groups. Asking for a student’s country of origin, if they reply “Canada,” will not reveal, for example, Indigenous peoples’ cultural presence.
  3. I don’t feel comfortable with the instructor asking the students to identify their gender, as this may be very personal. Asking students to identify their gender may circumvent an instructor’s assumptions about a student’s gender, but still puts the student in a very vulnerable spot.
  4. The one-off pre-lecture may actually reinforce cultural stereotypes. From the article, it sounds like there is a heavy focus on cultural dimensions (that is, from the work of Hoefstedde and others in the 70s and 80s, and the general, dichotomized characteristics of cultures around the world). These dimensions can be useful, but must be introduced carefully, as people commonly use these dimensions to “understand” people from cultures other than their own, applying them with a broad stroke and not taking into consideration variances and evolutions in cultures and also individuals.
  5. The 2011 article talks about “multicultural groups,” while the 2017 article talks about “intercultural groups,” which are very different concepts. It might be a useful exercise to explore the multicultural and intercultural aspects of these articles, as the distinction between multicultural and intercultural is very significant.
  6. This brings me to my last point—the coaching seems to lack an unpacking of one’s own culture, and does not seem to address intersectionality, which is also disconcerting.

There is a lot more that can be discussed around this article, beyond what I’ve noted above—by no means is my response exhaustive, but hopefully it opens a channel for reflection and discussion.


Reid, R, and Garson, K. (2017). Rethinking multicultural group work as intercultural learning. Journal of International Education, 21, 3, 195-212. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1028315316662981

[1] Strauss, P., U, A., and Young, S. (2011). ‘I know the type of people I work well with’: student anxiety in multicultural group projects. Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 36, No.. 7, 815-829. Accessed: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03075079.2010.488720

Why Do We Acknowledge Treaty 6 & Metis?



A session on this topic will be held during the Fall Fortnight on Monday August 29, 2016 from 9:30 – 9:55. Register here.
Many of you may have noticed that across the campus that there has been an increase in number of people who are acknowledging “that we are on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another”. One year ago the University of Saskatchewan’s academic governing body, the University Council, agreed to use specific language to acknowledge that the University was built on Indigenous peoples’ land. This official acknowledgement was developed for use at important meetings and gatherings on campus.

Since starting in my position I have been asked numerous times why are we doing this? What does it mean?

I have been working with Indigenous communities for a long time and most of the meetings that I have attended start with some type of acknowledgement of the land and place. My understanding of why we do this is that it shows respect for the land and the people who have lived on it. So much of what we, Indigenous people, know about the world and ourselves is based on the places we have lived for forever. Our land is sacred in that it is an important part of who we are and who we have always been. When we acknowledge the land and territory we are in, we are taking a purposeful moment to respect our history, culture, and knowledge that exist because of the land.

But it is more than just about the land that we belong to, it is also about the treaties we signed. The oral stories describing the treaty process provide our account of the agreement to share our land and resources, but not to absolute surrender of the land. We knew the value of our land with intimate detail, so we would never have given it away. Would you? However, the treaties were negotiated and signed in legal English and reinforced afterwards to support Canadian prerogatives rather than the spirit of the agreement or the Indigenous position. So despite agreeing to share the land with the new settlers in return for ongoing support, an unscrupulous and systemic process of governance ensured that Indigenous people never received what was promised for the land. Therefore, the prosperity and economic stability that Canada benefits from based on the gift, or sacrifice, of Indigenous people. So acknowledging the traditional territory that we are on also recognizes and honours this gift.

Lastly, I would like to thank the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for bringing a national spotlight to the cultural genocide experienced by Indigenous people. In better understanding these experiences I have added another layer of understanding to my acknowledgements. Acknowledging the place that I am meeting is also a way of participating in reconciliation; publicly declaring the importance of remembering that as long as the sun has shined, the grass grown, and the rivers flowed, the place we are meeting has a sacred connection to Indigenous people. For many, this acknowledgement will be a starting point for a united show support and willingness to help build a health and productive future for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.

Gearing Up With Fall Fortnight 2016




Fall Fortnight Postcard - Front“Happy New Year!!” That is how I think of September and the new school year. This often coincides with a strong pull to stationary stores, tidying my office, organizing my supplies, reading new books, and pulling out sweaters and warm socks.

Gearing up for the Fall Term is exciting. There’s often anticipation, hope, renewed energy for trying new things and looking forward to tweaking things I tried last year. I think about taking a class. There are new “school” clothes, crisp mornings, and longer shadows when I head for home. All of that is bundled together as the new term starts. I think about the new faculty, staff, and students joining the community of University of Saskatchewan in the most beautiful city in Saskatoon. And meeting new people and renewing connections with colleagues after the summer is fun.

The Fall Fortnight 2016 tugs on all these feelings of fresh starts, new ideas, learning that leads to change, connecting and reconnecting into the campus community, and gearing up for the 2016-2017 teaching and learning adventure. With over twenty sessions on a wide variety of topics in a variety of formats you will no doubt find something that intrigues you or answers a question you might have. There are Just-for-YOU sessions for new faculty, grad students, and post-docs in addition to all the other sessions on offer. New this year are sessions on the ADKAR change model and strengths-based approaches to setting up groups for success. For more highlights and a description of the sessions types take a look at this short video:

And it’s easy to register too. Check out http://www.usask.ca/gmcfortnight/

If you don’t see what you are looking for, drop us a line and let us know what you would like to see on the schedule next time around. And you can also request a tailored session—we work with you to design a session on the topic of your choice specific to your unit’s needs.

Looking forward to seeing at you at the Fall Fortnight (or in the Bowl or at a stationary store).

Fortnight Postcard - Back

Historical Biases in Understanding Culture – A Barrier to Indigenization?




Western society has made significant advances in empirically derived truth and scientific inquiry (e.g., anthropology, psychology, linguistics, etc.) since the Age of Enlightenment (e.g., Descartes, Diderot, Montesquieu, Turgot, Vico, Voltaire, etc.). The impact and importance of this epistemological approach to the world and its mass adoption by Western societies can be perceived in many elements of European civilization and culture (Boon, 1972; Goodenough, 1961; Keesing, 1974; Triandis, 1994).

The rise of Europe’s epistemological renaissance occurred during the era of colonial expansion. At the time that Europe was pressing itself onto numerous societies around the world, dominating the global stage, many Western thinkers were using this colonial perspective as the backdrop for their formation of a scientific approach to culture. From their perspective, culture comprised of a society’s knowledge, values, beliefs, arts, technologies, morals, laws, customs, practices and habits (Boon, 1972; Goodenough, 1961; Hofstede, 1984, 2001; Keesing, 1974; Triandis, 1994). While this is a reasonable interpretation, it contained, unfortunately, the value of innovation and technological advancement (see Tylor, 1871; Harris, 1971; Stocking, 1966). This innovation approach to knowledge and culture is a European value rather than a core component of culture. The problem with this misattribution is that it is self-serving; it allows for the imposition of continuum-based view of a society’s culture based on their technological sophistication and advancement. For Europeans, this provided them with the appearance of an unbiased way of judging societies as more or less civilized (or savage). Furthermore, this social evolutionist perspective of culture (Harris, 1971; Long & Chakov, 2009) allowed colonial societies to believe, naively or not, that less civilized societies would eventually evolve toward the same position as Europe, especially if they were given the ‘right’ support and guidance (Boas, 1904).

Fortunately, more modern social scientific thought posits “that cultures be understood in their own right, not as a rung in a hierarchical ladder of evolution, […] but simply as a qualitatively varied entity” (citing Boas; Hogan & Sussner, 2001, p. 22). Despite this more equitable and relativistic approach to culture in social scientific disciplines, it is very difficult for the typical citizen to not use what they know and value as a filter for examining other cultures and ways of knowing. Without the appropriate training and critical reflection, anyone can be forgiven for not recognizing this misattribution bias. From this perspective, I sometimes wonder if remnants of Tylor’s 1871 perspective of culture still exist in our society? How pervasive is the use of one’s own values, beliefs and institutions in trying to understand, and judge, other cultures? Can we find ways to move past these types of biases to build a pluralistic cultured environment at the University of Saskatchewan?

As always, I would appreciate hearing from you about your thoughts, concerns, or suggestions on this blog post. Please contact me to talk (stryker.calvez@usask.ca).

If you would like information about the GMCTE including about the programs and supports we offer, please contact us at gmcte@usask.ca

References
Boas, F. (1904). The history of anthropology. Science, 20, 513-524.
Boon, J. A. (1972). From Symbolism to Structuralism: Levi-Strauss in Literary Tradition. New York, NY: Harper and Row.
Goodenough, W. H. (1961). Comment on cultural evolution. Daedalus, 90, 521-528.
Harris, M. (1971).  The rise of anthropological theory: A history of theories of culture. New York, NY: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, Inc.
Hofstede, G. (1984). Culture’s consequences: Differences in work-related values. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications Inc.
Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviours, institutions and organizations across nations, 2nd Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.
Hogan, J. D. & Sussner, B. D. (2001). Cross-cultural psychology in historical perspective. In L. L. Adler & U. P. Gielen (Eds.). Cross-cultural topics in psychology. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
Keesing, R. M. (1974). Theories of culture. Annual Review of Anthropology, 3, 73-97.
Long, H., & Chakov, K. (2009). Social Evolutionism. Retrieved on April 30, 2010, from: http://web.as.ua.edu/ant/cultures/cultures.php.
Stocking, G. W. (1966). Franz Boas and the culture concept in historical perspective. American Anthropologist, 68, 867-882.
Triandis HC. 1994. Culture and Social Behaviour. New York: McGraw-Hill
Tylor, E. B. (1871). Primitive Culture. New York, NY: Brentano’s.

Indigenizing Education Series: Getting started …




As an Indigenous educator, researcher, and scholar, academics have asked me more often about ‘how’ we, the collective we, can improve the situation for the First Nation, Metis, and Inuit peoples than ‘why’ we should do this? While I appreciate the recognition that something needs to be done, I am often taken back when I realize that the reasons for this change, the ‘why’, are not well understood. How do you Indigenize an institution, like the University of Saskatchewan, if you don’t now what the issues are that need to be addressed? Therefore, my response is always preceded by a pause as I contemplate where do I start?

I would like to be clear, I am never upset by the ‘how’ question. The fact that people are asking questions is excellent, but we need to understand the reasons for ‘why’ we are Indigenizing so that we are better informed about ‘how’ we should Indigenize. Over the coming months, I intend to write a series of blog posts identifying and exploring some key issues that I hope you will find informative and interesting.

… In the classroom

So why isn’t there an adequate and necessary amount of support for Indigenous students to achieve their academic goals? I believe that it is important to understand that education can be a loaded term for some Indigenous peoples. Educational hostility or ambivalence does exist in some communities and households towards people who pursue educational goals. This lack of support for Western education is a direct result of the residential boarding school program. Community members who went to or have family members who attended residential schools (the last school closed in 1996 in SK; the Gordon Residential School) can perceive education as a negative goal. This means that there can be limited support for community members to attain high school diplomas or to pursue education at University. Western education can be seen as a direct threat to a community’s culture, language, and way of life (Battiste, 2001). This is the legacy that the residential school system instilled in Indigenous people, a lack of trust and value for Western education.

As educators, we should all recognize this lived reality for Indigenous students and try to support those who have worked hard to overcome these types of challenges to be at University. Once they have arrived, it should be our goal, even responsibility, to try to limit and remove the social, personal, and educational barriers that Indigenous students contend with. We must make classrooms safe and nurturing.

Classroom challenges for Indigenous students are sometimes related to their different ways of knowing, learning, and communicating course content. These students can have different perspectives or present ideas in the classroom that may not be perceived objectively by others in the classroom as the expected and appropriate response. In fact, differences in worldviews can often be treated as less-than-positive by instructors or other students, sometimes even coming across as hostile or prejudicial. We are talking about comments that are stereotype-based or discriminatory about Indigenous culture, history, and worldviews. For a great example of what I am talking about, take a few minutes to view the University of British Columbia’s short 20-minute video where Indigenous and non-Indigenous students provide examples of some of the difficulties that Indigenous students encounter in the classroom. These examples candidly and provocatively highlight moments when students did not feeling safe or supported and the repercussions that these experiences had on the students.

The University of British Columbia has developed a number of resources to help those who are interested in thinking through issues around classroom climate. Five modules have been developed as a useful starting point for your consideration.


Battiste, M. (2001). Aboriginal knowing: First voices. The U of S Pointer, 4, 1- 3.

 

Truth and Reconciliation – Call to Action for Educators




Indigenous people and their communities have had a long and contentious experience with Western education. For far too long, schools and education were used as instruments to systematically dismantle Indigenous culture, their way of living and knowing. Generation after generation of children were taken from their homes, sometime forcefully, in the name of providing them with a civilized education. Instead, what many of these children experienced was at its best a destructive education, and at its worse an inhumane brainwashing, aimed at having these children renounce their ‘savage’ Indigenous perspectives for a more ‘sophisticated’ Canadian approach to life.

Many Canadian universities are just beginning to acknowledge their role in reconciling the negative educational experiences of Indigenous people. Many Universities, like the University of Saskatchewan, are starting to recognize and respond appropriately to the impact of intergenerational trauma caused by residential schools by critically looking at how to effectively support Indigenous students’ ability to participate in postsecondary schools (please see future blog posts for more information on this topic). This is further supported by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action for all educators across Canada.

So it is with great anticipation and excitement that I am looking forward to seeing how our new University president, Peter Stoicheff, will plan out and follow through on his priority to Indigenize the University of Saskatchewan.

In Saskatchewan, including here at the University, we are blessed with an abundance of strong, capable Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who are invested in improving the academic experiences and outcomes of Indigenous students. This is reflected in the strong response and support for the University of Saskatchewan’s two day national forum, “Building Reconciliation: Universities Answering the TRC’s Calls to Action”. Canadian university presidents and their leadership teams, First Nations and Métis leaders, student leaders, Aboriginal scholars, and scholars dedicated to research that is meaningful to Aboriginal peoples will all participate. For more information about this event, please visit Building Reconciliation.

“If Not Us, Who? If Not Now, When?”




In Peter Stoicheff’s speech for the Presidential Announcement, he posed two questions that inspire the university’s efforts to decolonize and Indigenize our campus (July 9, 2015, http://www.usask.ca/presidentialtransition/).  Emphasizing the urgency for action, he asked, “If not us, who?” and “If not now, when?”

At the University of Saskatchewan, we have a growing number of Indigenous staff, students, and faculty. Yet the U of S is comprised of a predominantly white settler Canadian campus population, and is set within a traditional Western institution. As we build capacity and become strengthened by the work and contributions of Indigenous staff, students, and faculty, the non-Indigenous people on campus have a large task ahead of them. The time is “now,” and the “who,” regarding decolonization, is made up of “us” (a majority of non-Indigenous peoples) who, mostly unknowingly, contribute to the systemic racism and oppression felt by the various peoples on campus.

Part of the solution to decolonizing the institution is to draw the elements of oppression out of our classes, content, curricula, and institutional systems and policies/documents. What will remain will be generative soil for Indigenous staff, students, and scholars to take root, feel respected and valued for their work and contributions, belonging, and being to thrive.

For more information regarding decolonizing and Indigenizing your classes, content, and curricula, and to participate in relevant professional development, contact the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness at 306.966.2231, or gmcte@usask.ca.

Additionally, we encourage people to consider submitting applications to the Experiential Learning Fund, to help support their efforts to decolonize and Indigenize through practicums, community engaged learning, or field-based instruction. For more information, click here.

What It Means to Be an Ally




As we have recently come out of a week of sessions at the University aimed at making our campus a safer place for gender and sexual diversity and we enter Aboriginal Achievement week I am reflecting on what it means to me to be an ally.

Use of the term ‘ally’ in relation to marginalized groups is relatively new to me, however, what the term represents is not new.
Being an ally means working in solidarity with a marginalized group that I am not a part of to address systemic inequalities.

I’ve tried to boil down what I feel I have to work at everyday in being an ally (some days more successfully than others!) and have come up with 5 key things I’d like to share:

1)   I have to understand my position of privilege
This privilege is something that I have not earned, but received simply because of my characteristics – the way I was born.

When describing this to my six year old daughter, I liken this to recognizing that some of us are playing this game on level 1, while others are on level 5.
There are fewer barriers for me, fewer obstacles in my way and its far easier for me to get to the finish line. This doesn’t mean I haven’t worked hard or that I’ve sailed through life or not met challenges.  It just means there are things I don’t have to worry about ever facing because of who I am.

I don’t have to worry about what bathroom I may use in the mall or at work because they have been designated female and male with me in mind.
I don’t have to worry about a job application I put in being set aside simply because of the way my name sounds. I also don’t have to worry about being watched while browsing in a store simply because I am less likely to be viewed as suspicious because of the colour of my skin.

I’ve never had to get through the game at level 5, but it is my job as an ally to find out what its like as best I can, acknowledge and accept that some things are easier for me, and take what action I can to contribute to levelling the playing field.

2)   I need to listen and learn.
I need to work to listen to concerns raised by marginalized groups.  I need to consider them thoughtfully and recognize that at times my position of privilege can mean experiences sound unbelievable – they are so removed from my reality. Listening receptively can mean a marginalized group and the barrier they face can become more visible.

3)   I need to consider my position in making change.
As someone in the dominant group I should not be at the centre of the solution, I should only be a part of it.  This means dropping my agenda and my way of change. The marginalized community should be at the centre and I should be there to do what I can to contribute to making it happen.

4)   I need to accept that I will mess up and be uncomfortable and that I just have to deal with that.
Being a farm girl, I liken this to crossing a cow filled pasture.  If I focus ahead with my eyes on the horizon, I am going to step in it on occasion.  When it happens I need to apologise, learn from it, bend down, clean off my boots and keep going.

5)   Last but actually most importantly I need to be aware that being an ally is a daily activity I wake up and commit to doing – not a title or certificate I earn.
It is a verb not a noun.

So as I move forward in my work as an ally for the LGBT community, the Aboriginal community, or other marginalized groups I will work:

  1. to recognize my privilege;
  2. to listen;
  3. to find my appropriate place in driving change;
  4. accept I will mess up and I should learn from it; and
  5. keep trying

If you notice me step in something, I welcome you bring it to my attention so I can apologize, clean off my boots and continue to learn.

In writing this I read several sources. I’d recommend this blog post if you would like to read more or if you’re short on time, this 3 minute video is engaging and concise.  It might be a good one to share with students.

Mental Illness, Disability, and the Inclusive Classroom



By Adam Pottle, Graduate Fellow

In its Campus Climate survey report, which was released in November 2014, the University of Saskatchewan identified a number of areas it needs to improve in terms of making students feel safe and comfortable. The survey summary, which can be found at http://www.usask.ca/ipa/documents/Assessment/Surveys/2014_campusclimatesurvey_summaryreport.pdf, reports that

 [s]ome students in minority groups had less positive experiences when compared to their counterparts, especially some Aboriginal students, other visible minority students, sexual minority students, and some students with a disability. On average, those indicating a mental health condition generally had fewer positive experiences than all other students. (4)

The survey goes on to state that “57% of those with a mental health condition reported they either considered leaving or did leave the U of S” and that students “with a mental health condition…were twice as likely to report experiencing insensitive behaviour, exclusion, harassment and/or discrimination as compared to the overall survey population” (4). These results are troubling, especially given recent nationwide efforts to generate awareness and discussion, such as Bell’s “Let’s Talk” program. Clearly, more work is needed.

Mental illness has long been a stigmatized condition, namely because it is difficult for people to understand. In the classroom, it is easier to understand and include students with physical disabilities because any hindrance to accessibility assumes a tangible, physical form. Spaces can be rearranged; lectures can be recorded; hearing devices can be implemented. Mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and paranoia cannot be seen with the naked eye. They are obscure, and because we tend to fear what we do not understand, we stigmatize these conditions.

To help provoke dialogue around this subject, and to help instructors devise teaching strategies to promote accessibility, the Gwenna Moss Centre has created a workshop called “The Inclusive Classroom: Fostering Accessibility for Students with Disabilities.” The first offering of this workshop will be held on Monday February 9, 2015 from 1:30 to 4 PM and will feature presenters from Disability Services, the Canadian Mental Health Association, and the Learning Disabilities Association of Saskatchewan. Although the workshop will consider all disabilities, it will focus on mental illness and learning disabilities because these two conditions most commonly affect students at the University of Saskatchewan. Participants will discuss how to create open, inclusive classrooms and how to employ diverse teaching strategies for students with disabilities. This workshop will hopefully generate productive dialogue and help diminish the stigma of disability and mental illness.

The workshop will be held Murray 102. To register, please visit the events page on Gwenna Moss website and scroll down to February 9.

Where Are You From?




By Colleen Charles
Academically speaking, when you first meet a professional on campus, you state your name, job title and credentials accordingly. However, for First Nations people, and I speak for myself as a Woodland Cree, Treaty Six Territory, from the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, La Ronge, Saskatchewan, I have been raised to ask the question, “Where are you from?” when being introduced to new people. This is to find out if you have relations to the individual and their family.

Also, I used this technique in a presentation that I did for the GSR 989 Philosophy and Practice of University Teaching. According to Kim West, Educational Development Specialist and Instructor for the GSR 989 course, she stated,

“I think what really resonated with me is that Colleen’s icebreaker caused me and my students to question our cultural assumptions as academics. It named what we valued as academics (degrees and education) while gently reminding us there is more to who we are than just the knowledge we hold. I believe that teaching is about creating moments in the classroom when students and instructors can safely and genuinely share who they are. By shifting the dynamic from “education to relation” (Bingham & Sidorkin, 2004), Colleen’s icebreaker helped me as the instructor and for my students to reveal more about who we all are. Her approach reminded me of the importance of relational pedagogy in the classroom and why it matters.”

There was a College of Kinesiology Retreat in December 2013 that offered a combination of the Indigenous Voices workshops. Dean Carol Rodgers stated,

“I found this to be an insightful learning for me, as it immediately made me reflect on how our more academically structured form of introducing ourselves tells so little about WHO we really are and how we could learn so much more about what has shaped a person by learning about where they are from, who the important people have been in their lives and the journey they have taken to get to this time of introduction today. Moreover, this is such an easily incorporated icebreaker activity that also provides an opportunity to highlight cultural differences that in an immediate and hopefully reflective way enables all of us to learn from and with each other.”

As my new role as an Indigenous Voices Program Coordinator at the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness, I have gotten into the habit of introducing myself, saying where I am from and my job title last.

Lac La Ronge Indian Band LogoColleen Charles, MEd
Indigenous Voices Program Coordinator
Lac La Ronge Indian Band, Treaty 6 Territory

Bingham, C.W., and Sidorkin, A.M. (eds). 2004. No education without relation. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.