Lakehead University hosts Mexican universities for talks on Indigenous higher education
Roundtable discussion wraps up Tuesday, delegates have met with First Nations leaders in Thunder Bay area
Representatives from Canadian and Mexican universities are in Thunder Bay, Ont., this week to discuss issues around, and barriers to, Indigenous higher education.
The three-day, sixth-annual Canada-Mexico Roundtable on Intercultural/Indigenous Higher Learning is being hosted at Thunder Bay's Lakehead University, and includes attendees from eight universities in Mexico, and 11 in Canada.
While in Thunder Bay, participants have discussed issues relating to Indigenous higher learning in both countries, as well as visiting Indigenous communities and organizations in and around the city, including the Red Rock Indian Band, Fort William First Nation, and the Metis Nation of Ontario.
Part of Lakehead University strategy
"It's part of our strategy around Aboriginal peoples, and understanding and improving access to higher education of Aboriginal students," Lakehead President Brian Stevenson said. "Second, it's part of our international strategy, where we're trying to bring students from around the world [to Lakehead], and we're trying to send students to learn about other parts of the world."
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Part of the focus of the roundtable was to share best practices, and to discuss ways to address barriers to higher education for Indigenous students in both Canada and Mexico.
Soileh Padilla-Mayer, the cultural and educational affairs attaché at the Mexican embassy in Canada, said access to resources is one of the challenges facing many of the students.
"If they want to pursue international studies, you're always limited in the quantity of the support that you have," she said.
Benefits to international cooperation
However, she said, there are many benefits to international university partnerships, such as student and teacher exchanges, as well as cooperation on research projects.
"They can come together and say 'well, we're working in this type of research, why don't we [bring together] students and professors from both universities," she said. "Let's see what happens — methodology, sharing their own points of view, it can create something bigger and more important for the advancement of science and technology and research."
The roundtable participants also signed an agreement to promote mobility between Canadian and Mexican universities, as well as joint research and institutional collaboration.
The roundtable wraps up today.