Trauma in the Classroom for Indigenous Scholars: How Should We Respond? (book review)

This is the second in a series of book reviews written by FAUW’s Indigenization Working Group.

Book cover: Colonized Classrooms: Racism, Trauma and Resistance in Post-Secondary Education by Sheila Cote-MeekCote-Meek, Sheila. Colonized Classrooms: Racism, Trauma and Resistance in Post-Secondary Education. Fernwood, 2014. 175 pp.

—Shannon Dea, Department of Philosophy

Earlier this year, in the days and weeks following the devastating one-two punch of the acquittals of two White men on trial for the murders of Colton Boushie and Tina Fontaine, many post-secondary educators asked themselves how they should respond in the classroom. To discuss the topic, CBC Radio One turned to Sheila Cote-Meek, whose 2014 Colonized Classrooms addressed the matter square-on.

Sheila Cote-Meek is a professor of Indigenous Relations, and Associate Vice President of Academic & Indigenous Programs at Laurentian University. In Colonized Classrooms, she reports on and extrapolates from her doctoral dissertation, for which she interviewed fifteen Indigenous university students, faculty members and Elders. Cote-Meek uses Indigenous, post-colonial, feminist, and critical race scholarship ranging from Frantz Fanon and bell hooks to Gregory Cajete and Laara Fitznor to frame and expand upon what she learned in those interviews. Continue reading “Trauma in the Classroom for Indigenous Scholars: How Should We Respond? (book review)”

Reading Indigenous Writes by Chelsea Vowel (book review)

This is the first in a series of book reviews written by FAUW’s Indigenization Working Group.indigenous_writes_web

Vowel, Chelsea. Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada. Highwater Press, 2016, 240 pages.

—Katy Fulfer, Philosophy/Women’s Studies

I have good intentions when it comes to Indigenizing the university and decolonizing my teaching. I have resources available to help with the latter, but the former leaves me feeling overwhelmed. However, dwelling in a space of inaction is irresponsible. ‘Having good intentions’ won’t address structural injustice (and can perpetuate it).

Thankfully, educator and lawyer Chelsea Vowel wrote a primer for people like me who know that I ought to—and need to—know more than I do about Indigenous issues in Canada. I was attracted to this book because I’m a mega-fan of the Métis in Space podcast, in which Vowel and co-host Molly Swain provide a smart, sarcastic look at representations of indigeneity in science fiction film and television. Vowel brings the same sense of humour to Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada. Continue reading “Reading Indigenous Writes by Chelsea Vowel (book review)”

Territorial Acknowledgements and Indigenization: A Primer

Shannon Dea, Philosophy; FAUW vice president

Territorial acknowledgements

If you have received an email from me in the past year, you will have seen this statement in the footer: “I acknowledge that I live and work on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples. The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, land promised to Six Nations, which includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.” You have likely heard a similar acknowledgement at campus events in the past year or two. The statement is a territorial acknowledgement.

While reasons for using territorial acknowledgements vary from person to person and from group to group, I now use a territorial acknowledgement in my email, on my course syllabi, at the beginning of research talks, and even in the footnotes of my articles for two main reasons: out of respect for the past and out of commitment to the future.

Respecting the past

I am showing respect for the past in two ways when I use a territorial acknowledgement. First, I connect myself with a centuries-old tradition practiced by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis (FNIM) people. Second, I show my respect for the people who preceded settlers (i.e., non-FNIM folks) on this land. Continue reading “Territorial Acknowledgements and Indigenization: A Primer”

Meet Lori Campbell, Director of the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre

On April 18th, the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre (WAEC) was awarded the 2017 Equity and Inclusivity Award. Kathleen Rybczynski, Chair of the Status of Women and Equity Committee (SWEC), described why the Centre was selected for this year’s award: “The Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre exemplifies community strength, and with tremendous success has established decolonized spaces that celebrate and share Indigenous knowledges. Developing networks within our campus and broader communities, the centre brings people together: supporting, educating, and working toward respect and reconciliation.”

FAUW asked WAEC’s new director, Lori Campbell, to introduce herself to our community. In this post, Lori tells us about her background, WAEC’s initiatives, and what we can do as faculty members to support Indigenous perspectives and projects. Continue reading “Meet Lori Campbell, Director of the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre”

“Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education” MOOC

More than 30 faculty members at Waterloo have already registered to attend UBC’s MOOC [Massive Open Online Course] on “Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education”.

This MOOC runs for six weeks between January 24 and March 7. One can audit it for free, or take it for a certificate ($50 USD). Registration is open until January 24.

A group of UW instructors (supported by the Centre for Teaching Excellence) have decided to take the course and to meet a couple of times to discuss ways to apply what they are learning at Waterloo. There is still time to join this group if you are interested in learning more about reconciliation, and in thinking about what UW can do to support reconciliation. If you would like to join the UW cohort, please email Trevor Holmes (tholmes@uwaterloo.ca) to have your name added to the mailing list.

Attending this course is a first but significant step to following the recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in its “Calls to Action” (#53, 62, 65). Indigenizing postsecondary education is also a burning topic that was extensively discussed at CAUT’s new activists workshop in November.

More about the course

Week 1: Indigenous Education Through the Lens of Reconciliation
Week 2: History of Indigenous Education
Week 3: Learning from Indigenous Worldviews
Week 4: Learning from Story
Week 5: Learning from the Land
Week 6: Engaging in Respectful Relations

The learning objectives of this course are to:

  • Explore personal and professional histories and assumptions in relationship to Indigenous peoples histories and worldviews.
  • Deepen understanding and knowledge of colonial histories and current realities of Indigenous people.
  • Engage with Indigenous worldviews and perspectives that contextualize and support your understanding of the theories and practices of Indigenous education.
  • Develop strategies that contribute to the enhancement of Indigenous-settler relations in schools, organizations, and communities.
  • Explore Indigenous worldviews and learning approaches for their application to the classroom or community learning setting.
  • Engage in personal and professional discussions in an online environment with others committed to understanding and advancing reconciliation.

Lessons from the CAUT New Activists Workshop

Elise Lepage, FAUW Board member
On November 24, I attended the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ New Activists Workshop in Ottawa on behalf of FAUW. This was the second edition of this day-long workshop and it was well attended by more than 40 colleagues representing universities from coast to coast. I found it both well- thought-out and structured, and yet just open enough for effective and meaningful discussions to happen.
The workshop started with an open discussion to identify the challenges faced by post-secondary education. The list was long and it appears that despite the major differences in terms of size, location, and mission of each university, all of us share very similar concerns.
We summed this list of concerns up in four keywords: austerity, solidarity, equity, and (lack of) collegial governance. Groups were formed around these major topics to further the discussion, and offer some strategies.
Another keyword that came up in all the discussions was indigenization, and it appears that Canadian universities are at very different stages in this process. Good practices have to be shared. CAUT offered its support in facilitating this academic culture shift.
[Editor’s note: University Affairs has a good overview of indigenization efforts across Canada (and criticisms of such), and the University of Regina offers 100 ways to Indigenize and decolonize academic programs and courses (PDF).]
There were also hands-on sessions in which we developed communication and organizational skills such as writing a grievance or a press release, or producing awareness-raising materials such as posters and videos.

Overall, it was a very useful and informative workshop, and I am looking forward to sharing and applying some of these ideas and skills in my work with FAUW.