Indigenous Education Initiatives

College of Education • University of Saskatchewan • Treaty 6 Territory
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Indigenization, Decolonization, and Reconciliation at the College of Education

In June 2019, the College of Education signed a Memorandum of Understanding in partnership with the Northern Lights School Division, the Northern Village of Cumberland House, the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan, and the Cumberland House Cree Nation to deliver the BEd program in the northern community, beginning that fall. Built from community and involving all partners, the program demonstrates the power of collaboration.

Core to the University of Saskatchewan’s Strategic Plan, and true to the spirit of Indigenization, Decolonization, and Reconciliation is the College’s work on implementing specific Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's Final Report (2015).

We at the College of Education understand the institutional commitment to Indigenize academia. We recognize the prominence of Indigenization as a strategic pillar. As a result, and along with the College’s strong history as a leader in Indigenization, we have continued the work of enhancing longstanding and trailblazing programs and initiatives in Indigenization, as well as building new innovative programming and initiatives. The College takes seriously its role in this work, and understands its responsibility to teacher education. 

The College of Education sees Indigenization as that work which recognizes Indigenous perspectives, knowledges, worldviews, and ways of knowing and doing. Indigenization opens and creates safe spaces for the expression and incorporation of Indigeneity and ensures that it maintains a prominent space in the institution. Critical to Indigenization is the ongoing support of Indigenous student success. 

Compatible with the concept of Indigenization is the work of decolonization, which works to incorporate Indigenous worldviews into the structures and systems of the institution. Decolonization is a challenging but restorative process whereby both western and Indigenous interpretations and perspectives are respected. 

The act of reconciliation brings hope for the future. Through Indigenization and decolonization, we have the hope of reconciling. That is, restoring, establishing, and maintaining mutually respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples as a result of open, honest, and committed actions that build a better world for this and future generations. 

The information on these pages highlights the work led by the College of Education, while the additional tabs on this page further outline discipline-specific work carried out in departments and units.

 

Throughout the past several years, the College of Education has taken bold and active steps to advance the work of Indigenization and decolonization on many fronts. Standing on the shoulders of previous faculty and staff trailblazers who advanced Indigenization in the College to its strong national reputation, current faculty, staff and leadership have continued this work through the programs and initiatives described below.

College of Education Indigenous Programming and Initiatives

Undergraduate Programming

2019 Wall of Honour recipient Jessie Sylvestre and her brothers Darrell and James play a Dene Honour Song at the Student Awards Ceremony on January 25, 2020.
  • Mandatory Treaty Education: All undergraduate students in the college engage in mandatory Treaty Education led by Indigenous Elders and educators from the Office of the Treaty Commissioner.
  • Teaching for Reconciliation in the pre-K to 12 Curricula: All undergraduate students engage in EFDT 265 or ECUR 265, which introduce students to the integration of First Nations, Métis and Inuit content in curriculum.
  • Anti-Racism Education: All undergraduate students in the College of Education enrol in EFDT 101 that acts as a foundation for the anti-racism class EFDT 301 (Educator Identity in Contexts: Anti-Oppressive and Ethical Beginnings).
  • Indigenization Across the Program: College faculty and staff have engaged in course-mapping to ensure that Indigenous course content exists throughout the four years of education programming. All undergraduate students may enrol in teaching areas of Indigenous Studies or Cree across program routes. In addition, BEd program routes that specifically serve Indigenous students, including ITEP (Indian Teacher Education Program) and SUNTEP (Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program), continue to be supported and new off-campus program sites continue to be offered.
  • Off-campus Programs: The College of Education offers its undergraduate and graduate programs on campus as well as in communities (provincial and First Nations) upon request. Contact the College for more information.
  • Indigenous and Rural Practica: As part of their teacher preparation, all students experience three distinct practicum experiences including one in an Indigenous community or in schools with a high Indigenous student population.
  • Indigenous Language Certificate: In response to the TRC Calls to Action, the college engaged in the development of the Indigenous Language Certificate through the Department of Curriculum Studies.  The certificate is currently available in Cree and will soon be offered in Michif, and is structured to accommodate other Indigenous languages in the future.
  • Language Teacher Education Program: In response to community demand, the college will offer its first two cohorts of the new Language Teacher Education Bachelor of Education Program in Cree and in French. This new Immersion program will have its first intake in the fall of 2021.
  • Partnership through the Wáhkóhtowin Project: This research-based project provides the opportunity for ITEP students to combine coursework and field experiences in schools using the Wáhkóhtowin Professional Development School Model focused on Indigenous identity, kinship, language and culture.
  • Indigenous Student Awards and Recognition: In alignment with this priority, the college has increased the number of awards designated for Indigenous students only. 
  • Learning Communities: All first and second year students participate in learning communities that highlight the responsibility teacher candidates have to work towards reconciliation in ways that acknowledge and are respectful of the lived histories and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples.  

Human Resources

Michif Elder and Special Advisor Norman Fleury reads a Métis story with author and SUNTEP alumna Zoey Roy at the 2019 College of Education Indigenous Alumni Culture and Language Festival.
  • Indigenous Faculty and Staff Positions: Throughout the past five years, the College of Education has created eleven new Indigenous faculty and staff positions (8 full-time and 3 part-time) across the college including:
    • one Métis Elder and advisor,
    • two ITEP mentors positions,
    • one designated ITEP field coordinator,
    • one Indigenous languages faculty position, 
    • one Indigenous curriculum position,
    • three part-time Michif language community engagement and course developers for the Michif certificate, and
    • two remote ITEP support coordinators for 2020-2021.
  • Elders and Knowledge Keepers in Program: College of Education courses and learning communities offer space for Elders and Knowledge Keepers to support student learning.
  • Indigenous Events: As part of ITEP programming, the college is proud to support feasts, round dances, and other events that invite community, reciprocity and dialogue.
  • Indigenous Voice in Programming: As part of its commitment to the student learning experience, our TEP program directors work alongside department heads to ensure that TEP courses are taught by faculty and instructors with specialized knowledge and appropriate pedagogy.
  • Resource Allocation to Prioritize Community Engagement: The College resource allocation model elevates Indigenous and community engagement and scholarship to its prominent place through elevated financial support that recognizes its importance.
  • Resource Allocation to Prioritize Indigenous Students: The College’s resource allocation model sustains smaller ITEP class sizes and flexible programming and supports to best meet Indigenous student needs.

Our Physical Space

The RevisitED project is a permanent fixture in the College of Education.
  • Student Learning Spaces: The ITEP has been relocated in the college to a space more fitting for its size and enrolment. Now located in a larger designated space on the first floor, students have access to their own classroom, a student lounge with computers, as well as a newly renovated reception area and office spaces which complement student enrolment and staff numbers.
  • IndigenizED: Through its RevisitED campaign, the college has redesigned its main floor, which highlights the Indigenous content and perspectives in our programming. Come visit the college to see our walls come alive through the DiversifiED, IndigenizED, GiftED, and EducatED walls, as well as the student RepresentED wall. In fact, every wall speaks to the Indigenization priority.
  • Eco-justice/St. Frances Cree Bilingual Classroom: In partnership with GSCS, the college hosts middle years students and their teachers from the Eco-Justice and Cree Bilingual programs every week in order to support land-based and eco-justice programming.

In addition to the initiatives above, the College of Education continues to support off-campus student degree completions, increased Indigenous voice in college programming and initiatives, as well as a number of departmental program advancements at the graduate level, such as formalizing land-based programming, Indigenous-specific cohorts, and faculty research and service that supports Indigenous students, partners, and communities. Please consider departmental pages for more information.

 

History

ITEP Graduation, 1976

The philosophy of "Indian control of Indian education" has its roots in Saskatchewan. Over the past two decades, Saskatchewan Indigenous leaders have recognized education as a priority and as a result have become pioneers in the field throughout North America. Ground-breaking partnerships between the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Education, the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations have served as the foundation for programs such as ITEP, SUNTEP and NORTEP. 

In 1969, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (now Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations) undertook the first major education development, the Education Task Force. At that time, Chief Dave Ahenakew mandated his executive director, Sol Sanderson, to conduct the Task Force. The Task Force was headed by Rodney Soonias and developed a comprehensive statement of the state of Indian education in Saskatchewan. The two volume report became the watershed for Indian control of Indian education. 

In 1972, the National Indian Brotherhood (now Assembly of First Nations) Education Committee, chaired by Clive Linklater, developed a statement on Indian control of Indian education. This statement gained momentum and, in 1973, was endorsed by the Government of Canada.