By Kahente Horn-Miller, Assistant Professor, School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies
In 2016, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada made several calls to action to address systemic racism in Canada’s language and culture, child welfare, health care, judicial, and education systems. In the recommendations for reconciliation specific to higher education, the commission called for post-secondary institutions to increase the integration of Indigenous knowledge and teaching into the classroom.
Indigenous faculty and experts received many questions from university instructors and staff about how to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. To help tackle these questions and incorporate more Indigenous content in the classroom in an appropriate way, I decided I would take the initiative. I put forward a proposal for the Collaborative Indigenous Learning Bundles Project to Carleton’s Interim Provost Jerry Tomberlin. It was immediately taken up.
The bundles are a collection of online modules produced and delivered by Indigenous experts that address issues relevant to Indigenous peoples. I thought this would be a good method to address the calls to action at Carleton in a way that wouldn’t contribute to the overtaxing of Indigenous experts.
Designed as a resource for instructors and students to use in the classroom, the bundles provide the necessary factual and theoretical basis for understanding Indigenous history and politics in Canada, while also prompting students to consider how this knowledge might be applied in their area of study.
What is important about this method is it provides Indigenous content in a collaborative way that makes it relevant to various courses and programs of study. Its collaborative nature is in line with efforts to build bridges of understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and, most notably, it brings in the knowledge of multiple Indigenous experts in their fields like Zoe Todd, Heather Dorries, Damien Lee, John Borrows, Maria Campbell and a host of others.
The project consists of a series of 12 online bundles, each containing up to 40 minutes of lecture, an interview with an Indigenous Knowledge Keeper, and suggested activities, as well as readings and suggested assessments at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Any instructor can access these bundles to use in their courses (there is a limit of two bundles per course). Bundle topics include Engaging With Indigenous Peoples, Identity and Belonging, Indigenous Environmental Relations, Métis Culture and History, and Indigenous Sexuality, to name a few.
Before using the bundles, instructors can access training on how to incorporate and use them within their own courses. This ensures that the bundles continue to be used in a way that is culturally sensitive and serves the purpose of bringing our knowledge to you.
This project is funded by Carleton University’s Strategic Online Course Fund and coordinated by me, Dr. Kahente Horn-Miller, Assistant Professor in the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies, with the assistance of the Educational Development Centre staff. The first bundles should be ready by September 2018. Stay tuned!