Indigenous Voices Project Launched

by Wenona Partridge

Aboriginal engagement at the University of Saskatchewan was identified in the second and third integrated plans as an area of commitment in research, faculty development and curriculum development. The Indigenous Voices project, funded by the Provost’s Committee on Integrated Planning (PCIP) in 2011, resulted in the development of a program of cultural experiences, land-based experiential opportunities and workshops for faculty and staff in the College of Education and Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness (GMCTE), who also provided funds for the project. Additional staff and faculty development opportunties are being provided to the entire campus through the wāskamisiwin series, a collaborative effort of the Indigenous Voices and the Colleges of Nursing and Medicine.

The goals of the wậskamisiwin series are to generate increased awareness of the historical roots of contemporary social relations, to foster more positive and respectful relationships among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, and to consider the implications that this history has for the pedagogies being utilized within academic institutions.

This Indigenous Voices initiative, originally developed by the College of Education Beadwork group, was named in consultation with local Aboriginal Elders, the Beadwork group and the Gwenna Moss Centre.

The PCIP project proposal stated that, “while we have knowledgeable faculty and a good variety of courses on campus, we need to improve the evenness of instruction,” which the project claims can “only be achieved through targeted and rigorous faculty development.”

The proposal recognized that “issues of decolonization remain a discursive and transformative direction for conventional institutions of higher learning where Eurocentric privilege and denial remain entrenched.” The Indigenous Voices project aims to address these issues by integrating Indigenous ways of knowing with institutional structure and culture.