Regina universities move forward with plans to Indigenize campus
- EFN Staff | September 14, 2017
The University of Regina (U of R) and the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) continues to Indigenize its campus to accommodate Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Eight new campus streets will be named to represent plants that were traditionally important to Indigenous peoples.
“Four of the eight new names are going to be in languages that reflect those on whose traditional lands the campus sits,” said U of R President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Vianne Timmons. “Cree, Michif, Nakoda and Saulteaux will be used, in addition to French and English.”
Timmons said the university consulted with local Indigenous elders, communities and the Indigenous Advisory group on coming up with the street names. The idea sparked when Timmons went to New Zealand awhile ago after buildings were being rebuilt following the earthquake. Buildings were being renamed in Maori names as they were being built. When she returned to the U of R, she and the U of R executive team brainstormed different ways they can support and reflect Indigenous cultures on campus.
“We sit on Treaty 4 lands and this is Cree territory so we felt it was important,” she said. “The university is now at 13 percent of the student body who self identify as Indigenous and that would be the highest in Canada. We really need to ensure that we reflect the community we’re in.”
In addition to the campus street naming where sign installation is scheduled for completion in the fall, there are new Indigenous courses and programs that will be offered to the U of R and the FNUniv – its partnering institution.
Dr. Sherry Farrell Racette is professor in the Department of Visual Arts and is teaching an Art History Class (ARTH390) called Indigenous Women and the Camera. This course will explore how the colonial lens created a visual legacy of representation of Indigenous women. Another new program called the Certificate of Reconciliation Studies (CRS) which was introduced by faculty members of the FNUniv. Bettina Schneider is the FNUniv Associate Vice-President of Academics said the upcoming program is delivered online so students can take the program anywhere. There are six classes in this certificate program that students are required to take. Schneider added the program can be finished within two semesters if the required classes are taken at full load.
“This certificate is a natural fit for First Nations University. We focus on Indigenous knowledge, traditions and perspectives that we include in all our academic programs,” Schneider said. “We’ve been in the business of reconciliation since our creation more than 40 years ago. This certificate is formulizing the process of reconciliation at FNUniv.”
According to the institution’s website, the CRS is following the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in which it will focus on recognizing the shared history of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and the need to promote healing, equity and respect for /of Indigenous cultures and values in Canadian Society.