University of Winnipeg makes indigenous course a requirement
New undergraduate students will have to take at least 1 indigenous studies course starting 2016-17
The University of Winnipeg has officially given the green light to a new requirement that all students, starting in the next school year, take at least one indigenous studies course in order to graduate.
The university's senate unanimously approved the requirement on Friday, making it mandatory for students to take a course focused on the rights, traditions, history, governance or other facets of indigenous culture.
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The requirement will apply to new undergraduate students starting in the 2016-17 academic year. It will not affect the graduation requirements of existing students.
A motion calling for the requirement, brought forward by the University of Winnipeg Students' Association and the Aboriginal Students' Council, was approved in principle by the senate in March.
"This is a proud, joyous, and historic day for the University of Winnipeg community," university president Annette Trimbee said in a news release.
"We recognize our responsibility to commit to the [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] recommendations and today's decision by our faculty effectively implements a good number of them. We have taken an important step to integrate indigenous knowledge, perspectives and world view into our curricula and culture."
The university says students can choose from a number of courses "in which the greater part of the content is local indigenous material — derived from or based on an analysis of the cultures, languages, history, ways of knowing or contemporary reality of the indigenous peoples of North America."
The number of credit hours that will be required to graduate won't change, officials added.
Academic departments will compile a full list of courses that will fulfil the indigenous course requirement in time for new students to register for the 2016-17 school year.
While the University of Winnipeg originally said it is "the first university in the country to mandate that all students will learn about Indigenous Peoples," similar requirements are in place or in the works at two other Canadian universities.
The University of Regina has a mandatory indigenous course requirement for students in its faculty of arts, but the requirement does not apply to the university as a whole, a spokesperson told CBC News.
Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., will require new students, starting in September 2016, to take a "minimum of one course with at least 50 per cent indigenous content." A university spokesperson said many students already have such courses as part of their programs and will exceed the minimum.