University of Saskatchewan

September 19, 2014   

U of S Researchers Help the Mi’kmaq Recover their Humanities

Dr. Marie Battiste
September 01, 2010

A team of scholars at the University of Saskatchewan is embarking on a three-year project to investigate and record the teachings, spirituality, oral traditions, arts and other aspects of the humanities of the Mi’kmaq of Atlantic Canada.

Led by Marie Battiste, academic director of the U of S Aboriginal Education Research Centre in the College of Education, the interdisciplinary project has been awarded $249,858 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Professor Battiste speaks the Mi’kmaw language and maintains strong ties to her Mi’kmaw community, the Potlo’tek First Nation of Cape Breton. She says this project will allow the Mi’kmaq to share their humanities in their own words and experiences, rather than have their history told through Western and European perspectives as has been the case to date.

“The European interpretation has been the source of diminishment for indigenous peoples by virtue of the fact it creates itself as the norm and everybody else as subordinate to the norm,” says Battiste. “Around the world, indigenous people are articulating their own humanities. It’s part of a decolonizing movement known as the indigenous renaissance.”

Research will begin this summer in a series of structured dialogues with the Mi’kmaw community of elders, teachers, scholars, and leaders.

“The goal is to shift educational and public discourses about the Mi’kmaq from deficiency to accomplishment, from misunderstanding to respect, from exasperation to pride, and from division to co-operation,” says Battiste.

Battiste is one of Canada's most influential researchers in the field of indigenous and First Nations education, and a technical expert to the United Nations on issues surrounding the education of indigenous peoples. She was honored in 2004 with the U of S Distinguished Researcher Award and in 2008 with the National Aboriginal Achievement Award from National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation.

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For more information, contact:

Marie Battiste
University of Saskatchewan
(306) 222-3071
marie.battiste@usask.ca

Mark Ferguson
Communications Officer, University Communications
(306) 966-1851
m.ferguson@usask.ca

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