Creating space for Indigenous knowledge
Intercollegiate Ped Days began on Jan. 12 with a beautiful welcome by Dawson College Board of Governors member and McGill professor Alex McComber. His welcome, which was in English and Kanien’kéha, was to Mother Earth and aimed to remind us of how we are all tied together and how we should be thankful for all things in life, big and small.
This led perfectly into the keynote presentation by Dr. Kahente Horn-Miller, a faculty member at Carleton University’s School of Indigenous Studies and the inaugural Assistant Vice-President, Indigenous Initiatives. Her research involves Indigenous women, identity politics, colonization, and consensus-based decision-making. In her personal life, she is a mother of four daughters and a grandmother.
Education is the key to reconciliation
As Dr. Horn-Miller told us, education has been used as a tool of oppression of Indigenous people. Canadians, in general, have been miseducated. Education is one of the keys to reconciliation. As settlers, we, as an educational institution, have the responsibility to create a safe space in our classrooms, services and the College as a whole. We must undertake the responsibility as educators to look towards the future and help our students engage in these difficult conversations.
The honouring of the Indigenous perspective within education could include initiatives such as an audit of the school, creating Indigenous-led committees, holding consultations, and sharing calls to action. Examples of calls to action could include recruiting and retaining Indigenous students, faculty and staff; increasing Indigenous visibility on campus; using Indigenous teaching methods and ways of knowledge; supporting Indigenous students; offering core Indigenous studies courses for all incoming students; and dedicating Indigenous spaces.
Making space in Colleges for Indigenous voices
As Dr. Horn-Miller said, this is a slow process, but most recognize that things must change. There is an awareness that Indigenous knowledge has to be brought into the classroom.
Settlers, also known as non-Indigenous people, are invited to listen, carry knowledge that is shared with them, and support these initiatives. Indigenous people cannot do this work alone, she said.
Dr. Horn-Miller encouraged the CEGEPs to create their own version of her project entitled Indigenous Collaborative Learning Bundles, which is successfully increasing Indigenous content in classrooms across disciplines.
About 225 people from the English-language CEGEPs attended the talk.
-Submitted by Carey-Ann Pawsey