'Indigenizing' TRU: university launches storytelling series

Thompson Rivers University wants to become the university of choice for Aboriginal learners. In an effort to raise awareness of First Nation culture and history on campus they are launching an online storytelling series called Towards Indigenizing Higher Ed.

Towards Indigenizing Higher Ed is an online storytelling series featuring dozens of Kamloops faculty members

Paul Michel moved from the University of North British Columbia to work at TRU two years ago.

The executive director of Aboriginal learning at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) has an ambitious goal in mind.

He wants the Kamloops institution to become the university of choice for Aboriginal learners.

Paul Michel came to TRU two years ago. He's the chief of the Adams Lake Indian Band.

Starting in early Feb., Michel is launching an online storytelling series called Towards Indigenizing Higher Ed.

Over a dozen faculty members will share their stories about how to successfully incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing in the classroom.

Some of the faculty and instructors at TRU who are taking part in the Towards Indigenizing Higher Ed storytelling series (towards-indigenizing.trubox.ca)

Indigenization for Michel means "respecting, including and infusing Indigenous ways of knowing into all the structural layers of our university."

"We want our Aboriginal learners at TRU to be strong and we want our non-Aboriginal learners to be informed," said Michel.

The sessions are for both students and faculty. There will be four in total spread over two months.

Campuses across Canada have launched similar campaigns to indigenize their curriculum, inspired in part by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its calls for action.

Tom Friedman, the president of TRU's faculty association, said that can be achieved by making sure course curriculums refer to Indigenous scholars.

"We believe that our faculty should be committed to opening space at our university in our teaching and research for Indigenous knowledge."

As well, several faculties at TRU have been welcoming elders into the classroom on a regular basis to share their traditional knowledge.

Estella Patrick Moller is one of three elders who are part of an Elder in the House Program at TRU. (tru.ca)

For example Estella Patrick Moller from the Nakazdli First Nation has been a nurse since the 1970s and is a residential school survivor.

She brings her understanding of Indigenous world views and how they contribute to therapeutic patient relationships to TRU nursing students.

The online storytelling series run on Feb. 2nd and 15 and Mar. 1 and 15. Each session will be livestreamed online.

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