STU begins Indigenization of the academy

St. Thomas University has already begun responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and plans to continue throughout the 2017-18 academic year.

St. Thomas began Indigenizing the academy — incorporating Indigenous cultures into the university — during welcome week with a powwow and celebration of cultures and stories. They also included territorial acknowledgements before each event.

Welcome week chair Morgan Matheson said the celebration was one thing he was very proud of.

“I think it’s very important we continue to do that, especially during welcome week because that’s the only time when we really have all the first years together,” Matheson said.

“So these first years have experienced it now, and it four years they’ll be graduated and will have continued to hear it.”

Jeffrey Carleton, STU’s associate vice president of communications and a member of the senate committee responsible for responding to the 94 Calls to Action, said this is an important issue for the university.

“[Our goal] is to have faculty and students have more knowledge about Indigenous cultures,” Carleton said.

STU began addressing the Calls to Action with the reading of the report itself last February, where approximately 40 students, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, read all 94 Calls to Action before an audience.

Afterwards, the senate committee began to plan a three-day conference in which keynote speakers will address how to incorporate Indigenous cultures further into STU.

The conference will take place Sept. 27 to 29.

“The conference is a natural fit for St. Thomas University.” Carleton said.

The first speaker, Toronto-born Eddy Robinson, of the Anishinaabe/Mushkegowuk Cree, will speak on Sept. 27 at 1 p.m. about ways Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples can work together.

Rebecca Thomas, a Mi’kmaq poet, will deliver a speech on Sept. 28 at 9 a.m. about analyzing and understanding Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives.

Finally, Marie Battiste, a Mi’kmaq educator and professor at the University of Saskatchewan, will give a lecture on Sept. 29 at 9 a.m. on how to incorporate Indigenous cultures into curriculums.

Other events will occur throughout the year as well, including a film screening, a lecture on cultural appropriation and a panel discussion on Canada 150.

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