Indigenous Studies Program Still In The Works

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The status of the McGill Indigenous Studies Program has been clarifed following a miscommunication between the relevant parties.

In her last report to Council, SSMU Vice-President University Affairs Haley Dinel wrote that Dean of Arts Christopher Manfredi had approved a new Indigenous Studies Program. Although the project is in development, Manfredi has not approved the program, as he does not have the authority to do so (see “Re: ISP,” page 8).

According to Dinel, the confusion arose from a call she received from a member of the Social Equity and Diversity Education Office (SEDE), discussing the proposal for the program that is currently being compiled by McGill’s Institute of Canadian Studies.

“There was just some miscommunication between the two of us,” she said. “I didn’t ask any more questions because our conversation was very brief.”

According to Coordinator of McGill’s Aboriginal Sustainability Project Allan Vicaire, the program cannot be approved until William Straw, the director of McGill’s Institute of Canadian Studies, develops a proposal outlining the potential program.

While Vicaire hopes that a proposal will be ready late next semester, he said the program will probably begin as a minor in Indigenous Studies. This minor could then potentially be developed into a major within a few years.

According to Vicaire, his researcher has been looking into Indigenous Studies programs at other universities, to see how they work and what they use as a foundational course. Vicaire explained that the proposed program will likely be interdisciplinary.

“There are already a lot of courses given in lots of faculties—education, law, history, anthropology,” he said. “My researcher has emailed all these departments and [asked], if they would cross-reference courses into the program if we were to have a program. And we’ve received many responses as ‘yes.’”

Vicaire said those involved in the development of the program are looking to collaborate with the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), which has also hired a researcher to look into the possibility of a program. Vicaire will be meeting with Straw later this week, to discuss further steps in developing the proposal.

“We want to figure out how we can get the community involved to hear their voices in terms of what they want in this program,” Vicaire said. “Their opinion and our data will transpire into an actual proposal. There needs to be more collaboration in terms of getting everyone’s opinion—not just the Indigenous students but all students campus wide, and also the neighbouring Indigenous communities.”