Continuing the Journey of Indigenizing Education at Trent University
In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's (TRC) call for the meaningful integration of Indigenous Knowledges, perspectives, and worldviews into academic programs, Trent University is continuing to take proactive steps forward.
The Starting the Journey workshop series, conceived by Professor David Newhouse, director of the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies and 3M teaching fellow, is helping to lead the way.
Through a collaboration with the Centre for Teaching and Learning and bolstered by support from the Distinguished Visiting Scholar Fund, this initiative has attracted more than 130 Trent faculty members, across various disciplines. These educators are committed to embarking on their own journeys toward a deeper understanding of Indigenous perspectives, spanning across various disciplines within the University.
The goal of the series is to highlight the exemplary work of Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars in curricular Indigenization, and to inspire and support faculty in overcoming barriers to working with Indigenous Knowledge, thought, and scholarship within their course design and delivery.
The role of Two-Eyed Seeing and reciprocity in the classroom
Two visiting scholars from the series, Carola Knockwood, executive director of Mi’kmaw Services Branch, Government of Nova Scotia, and Dr. Cheryl Bartlett, professor emeritus in Biology at the University of Cape Breton, talked about the importance of relationship building and the concept of Etuaptmumk (Two-Eyed Seeing) in their work. Two-Eyed Seeing, they explained, involves perceiving the world through one eye with the strengths of Indigenous ways of knowing, and through the other, with the strengths of Western ways of knowing. Knockwood and Dr. Bartlett stressed the crucial role of reciprocity and relationship building in this context.
“We need to continue to grow understandings within a co-learning journey. Co-learning is essential. And it must be accompanied by action,” shared Dr. Bartlett.
Dr. Vincent Ziffle, assistant professor of Chemistry at First Nations University of Canada, also featured in the series, shared how he developed courses such as: Chemistry and Indigenous Knowledge: Development of a Novel Chemistry Course, and Medicinal Plant Survey and Paint Project Highlighting Indigenous Food, Medicine and Art Traditions. Professor Ziffle continues his work to overcome barriers and incorporate Indigenous thoughts and best practices into his coursework and research.
Mitch Huguenin, Trent’s education developer in Indigenous pedagogy, supported the development of the series and shared one clear positive takeaway was that it prompted new faculty from each decanal unit to reach out to him and book consultations on how they can work to Indigenize their courses.
"Starting the Journey wasn’t just a workshop series; for many, it was a first step into the heart of Indigenizing higher ed. It was about cutting a path for faculty so they could come to value and appreciate approaches to teaching (and learning) that emphasize an interweaving of two distinctly different, but complementary, systems of knowledge."
Posted on September 28, 2023