The Task Force calls on our University to provide financial support for programs that bring Indigenous elders and traditional knowledge-holders to campus.
- The Faculty of Law had prepared a proposal for a pilot Elder-in-Residence program. It was put on hold due to COVID-19, which made it impossible to conduct community visits for outreach purposes.
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.
- Indigenous Access McGill is planning a retreat for social work faculty to experience a version of the IDFC 500 field course.
The Task Force calls on our University to create and support a stand-alone academic unit in the emerging discipline of Indigenous Studies, which will be staffed by tenure-track faculty. By establishing the McGill Institute for Indigenous Studies and Community Engagement and building on the success of the Indigenous Studies minor program in the Faculty of Arts, the Institute would house a new Indigenous Studies major and honours program, and would have as a long-term goal the creation of a graduate program in Indigenous Studies.
In terms of outreach activities and partnership-building with communities, the Institute would place emphasis on local Indigenous community engagement by prioritizing Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabeg, and Urban Indigenous populations and organizations.
The Institute would be staffed by tenure-track academics, typically cross-appointed between the Institute and other units in the University, who study Indigenous knowledge systems and pedagogies, who seek to understand Indigenous societies from within, while recognizing and engaging with their constitutive philosophies, histories, epistemologies, identities, practices of political governance, cultures, and languages.
- Fall 2020 Launch event: tying together many of these new initiatives, the Faculty had planned to have a fall launch event which would include a mix of public-facing events and closed-door consultation on the draft proposals for the Institute.
- The Mellon committee is planning to have this launch event virtually, and will also put up a webpage for the initiative in the fall.
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.
- Mellon funding is available through the Linguistics department and Indigenous Studies & Community Engagement Initiative to support activities in this area. These activities are anticipated to ramp up with the recent hire of James Crippen in the Linguistics department.
- The School for Continuing Studies and the Indigenous Studies & Community Engagement Initiative have launched discussions on accrediting Kahnawake adult language immersion classes for McGill credit.
- Working on potential future collaborations with programs in Kahnawake, although much of it is on hold due to COVID-19.
- Accreditation is a high priority item for relationships with Kahnawake.
The Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID), in partnership with Emerging Leaders’ Dialogues Canada, is offering an innovative program that promotes relationship building between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. The program will bring together 40 emerging Canadian leaders for a six-day program of classroom and community activity on Vancouver Island, and will be held for the first time in June 2017. McGill’s partner in this program is Vancouver Island University.
The Task Force calls on our University to provide support that will allow ISID to make this an annual event that will create a network of Indigenous leaders over time.
- This collaboration with the McGill Institute for the Study of International Development is standing by to start.