UPEI developing 'historic' faculty for Indigenous studies
Faculty to develop new 4-year program, mandatory classes for all UPEI students
The University of Prince Edward Island will have a new faculty dedicated to Indigenous studies starting next year.
The school's senate and board of governors has officially given the greenlight to the faculty of Indigenous knowledge, education, research and applied studies.
The faculty will develop mandatory classes on Indigenous history for all UPEI students, as well as a four-year applied studies program, which will begin next fall semester.
Interim dean Gary Evans said the idea of an Indigenous faculty has been in the works for many years, but it wasn't until discussions regarding truth and reconciliation took place in the university this year that the project started taking concrete shape.
"We were working toward it, but we then I think realized that this was indeed the time," he said.
"This is historic. We are our own faculty. This is not a department within another group: this is a stand-alone faculty. So this is not a minor step."
'100 per cent Indigenous'
Evans said the faculty will be "100 per cent Indigenous."
It's development was spearheaded by UPEI's Indigenous circle of faculty members and heavily based on the vision put forward by the university's elder-in-residence, Judy Clark.
The circle has also consulted P.E.I.'s Indigenous community and embraced some of its feedback.
"It's going to be bringing Indigenous knowledge and ways of doing to the table. It's going to have a focus on sharing that knowledge. Part of it is also linked to the 94 calls of action in terms of reconciliation," Evans said.
"We're going to provide ... education for all students coming into UPEI on the history of the Mi'kmaw people, on the history of Indigenous people across Canada and Turtle Island."
Evans said the new program's goal is making Indigenous thinking influential in the community for years to come.
"Using traditional and contemporary Indigenous knowledge, we will develop generations of successful, respected, influential community members contributing to a better society and world," Evans said.
He said the faculty's efforts won't just be dedicated to educating Indigenous students, and that one of the goals is to make all students appreciate Indigenous knowledge and understand the history.
"When you look at the concept of reconciliation, it has to be everybody. This is not just for Indigenous students. This is for everybody," he said.
With files from Angela Walker