The Task Force calls on our University to implement a five-year plan (renewable) to increase the number of Indigenous students at McGill in the School of Social Work and provide them with the tools, training and support to graduate and make a difference in their communities while shaping Indigenous issues that affect Canadian society.
The program should offer dedicated support to prospective students (beginning with initial inquiries, connecting prospective students to other educational institutions for the completion of prerequisites), support in locating housing, one-on-one support for in-stream students (academic and personal advising, mentoring and tutoring) and career development opportunities, including field placements, and guidance in seeking post-graduation employment.
The program should maintain ties with Indigenous Social Work alumni who can play an important role as ambassadors encouraging the next generation of Indigenous students to stay in school and seek post-secondary education.
- The IDFC 500 Indigenous Field Studies course has been in operation for 10 years with excellent attendance and completion.
- Indigenous Access McGill had a public premiere of these two films as part of the the 2019 Indigenous Awareness Week programming:
- RAHSKWAHSERON:NIS Building Bridges by Mohawk filmmaker Courtney Montour (about the IDFC 500 course)
- Jordan River Anderson: The Messenger by Abenaki filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin
- The entrance to Wilson Hall has a banner with Welcome written on the wall in three languages: Kanienkéha, English, and French.
- As part of the Social Work 100 Celebration, an art installation was created by Mohawk artist Ellen Gabriel illustrating the creation story of the Haudenosaunee.
The Faculty of Arts is in the unique position of having an emerging discipline in its Indigenous Studies Program that stands as a significant growth area in terms of research, teaching, student interest, community engagement and alumni support. Although it is only two years old, its success aligns with experience at other institutions in Canada and the United States where full-blown Indigenous or Native Studies programs have been proven successful for the past several decades.
The Indigenous Studies Program needs to be solidified as a minor program before building out as an Institute for Indigenous Studies and Community Engagement. The Task Force calls on our University to take these steps:
- provide teaching support for the Indigenous Studies Program for three years by hiring of a Faculty Lecturer;
- provide a two-year postdoctoral fellowship to enhance research activities and opportunities in the Indigenous Studies Program; and
- provide support for a part-time administrator and an annual operating budget to support advising activities, the coordination of collaborative relationships with Indigenous communities and organizations, and to sponsor visiting speakers and traditional knowledge holders.
- The Campus Planning Development Office and the Indigenous Studies Program have identified a location and develop a space that meets the needs of the Indigenous Studies Program.
The Task Force has not assumed that Indigenous communities want to see Indigenous languages taught in a university setting for predominately non-Indigenous students while fluency rates in communities themselves are declining or under great pressure. McGill should consider where it can add the most value to language teaching and revitalization in Indigenous communities, while heeding the perspectives and needs of Indigenous communities as voiced by their members.
The Task Force calls on our University to develop a plan and strategy, prepared with educators, administrators and elders in Indigenous communities, by which McGill’s resources and expertise in the fields of linguistics, teaching accreditation, educational psychology, Indigenous Studies and other fields can be marshaled to support language revitalization in local Indigenous communities, particularly in the traditional territory on which McGill’s campuses are located. To this end, we recommend that McGill:
- dedicate financial support (‘seed money’) for this plan, as well as identify who at McGill will lead this initiative for the University. The work of the Task Force suggests there is leadership on language revitalization in the Indigenous Studies Program, the Faculty of Education and the Department of Linguistics in the Faculty of Arts; and
- move to implement the plan once it is approved by communities and McGill University.
- The Office of First Nations & Inuit Education and the Linguistics department held an Indigenous Language Revitalization and Restoration forum in 2018.
- McGill will work on implementing the vision articulated after the forum.