A day of learning in the Longhouse

Published: 24 January 2024

On November 22, a delegation of McGill senior academic leaders, including Interim Vice-President (Global Engagement) and Department of Plant Science Professor Anja Geitmann, Associate Provost (Teaching and Academic Programs) and Department of Natural Resource Sciences Professor Christopher Buddle, and School of Human Nutrition Professor Treena Wasonti:io Delormier, visited the Mohawk community of Kahnawà:ke to take part in a full day of work and exchange with some of the community’s political and educational leaders.

The visit was part of McGill’s commitment to respond to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Ongoing engagement and collaboration with First Nations communities is fundamental to advancing McGill’s own 52 Calls to Action stemming from the 2017 Final Report of the Provost’s Task Force on Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education.

The Final Report’s Call #39 specifically calls upon Faculties and Schools to develop comprehensive plans for how they intend to introduce and/or develop Indigenous content into their respective curricula. Being present in community and listening to leadership, cultural knowledge-holders and education professionals is an essential step in this process.

As part of the day's activities, Professor Delormier presented on the working relationship between McGill and Kahnawà:ke through the lens of her own experience as a researcher in McGill's Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, notably with the Kahnawà:ke Schools Diabetes Prevention Program.

Delormier offered a first-hand testimonial on the strength and resilience of the Kahnawà:ke community and discussed the many challenges related to increasing research capacity, and conducting such research respectfully through engagement and relationship building with the communities. She also spoke about the unique challenges facing traditional knowledge holders and the importance of revitalizing the Mohawk language, drawing on her own journey as a scholar and member of the community.

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