Following the comments of President Stoicheff regarding Aboriginal students at his installation ceremony, the work of the Indigenous Student Council, and other Canadian universities, University Students’ Council has asked the University of Saskatchewan to strike a coordinating committee made up of relevant students, faculty, Indigenous leaders, Elders, and other important voices to consider the logistics necessary to implement Indigenous content into the curriculum of every University of Saskatchewan College and degree.
The motion passed is:
That the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union call on the University of Saskatchewan to:
- Commit to implementing Indigenous content into the curriculum of every University of Saskatchewan College and degree;
- Strike a coordinating committee made up of relevant students, faculty, Indigenous leaders and elders, and other important voices to consider the logistics and implementation of the incorporating Indigenous content in curricula.
- The above committee would be charged with conducting a proper consultative process to ensure all relevant viewpoints and considerations are addressed appropriately.
- Make the commitment by January 31st, 2016, and strike the committee by May 31st, 2016.
“This change will help with bridging the gap in education and in general between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people. This will help with combating stereotypes, prejudice and racism. This also will give our Indigenous students a sense of belonging, identity and culture that a lot of us have lost within the system with ripple effect of residential schools and colonization. The U of S making this change could really change the lives and future of our Indigenous people in wanting to go to post secondary and seeing themselves on campus,” said Indigenous Students Council President, Feather Pewapisconis-McKee.
This will not be known until the University begins the consultative process, but the USSU will be asking for current students to not be affected by this change.
The governing body of undergraduate students passed the motion; it does not mean that the University will implement Indigenous content.
Consultation is extremely important for the implementation of such a major change like this one. The USSU fully expects the University of Saskatchewan to engage the university community in a thorough and substantive consultation procedure where all concerns can be heard. However, the USSU motion was made based on principle: we believe this is something that should–and can–happen, and are asking the university to challenge itself and commit to it.
This is one of the largest concerns we have heard from students. There are many possible solutions to add Indigenous content to existing courses. It is a challenge the advisory committee would need to address.
The exact logistical details would need to be worked out by the University, but the USSU strongly recommends such a change be grandfathered in and will only affect incoming students. It would be unfair to expect students to add another class that they had not anticipated, in order to graduate.
The USSU is working with various bodies and offices of the University of Saskatchewan to make a commitment and to strike a committee or several committees.