Indigenization is a major topic of discussion at universities across the country and Waterloo is no exception.
What you need to know
- The traditional territory we’re on. The University of Waterloo (including the Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge campuses) is situated on the Haldimand Tract, land promised to the Haudenosaunee of the Six Nations of the Grand River, and is the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg, and Haudenosaunee peoples. Six Nations is the largest reserve in Canada and is just 60 km from the University. (Here’s why we think you need to know this.)
- What the University is doing. Waterloo began work on an Indigenization Strategy in 2017. Five working groups drafted recommendations, which will be considered and developed into an Indigenization Strategy by a Director of Indigenous Initiatives once that position is filled.
- What FAUW is doing. The goal of our Indigenization working group (also started in 2017) is to help faculty members take action. We’re working on self-education, relationship building, and blog posts, and are in the early stages of event planning. This group is always open to new members. We are also running a monthly reading circle on Indigenization at universities. Contact Laura McDonald if you’re interested in joining either group.
- There are Indigenous people at Waterloo. As of 2017, there were approximately 135 self-declared First Nations, Inuit, or Métis (FNIM) students at Waterloo and 38 employees, including some faculty.
Where to find information
What’s happening at Waterloo
- The University’s Indigenization Strategy website
- Shatitsirótha’ – the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre
- Truth and Reconciliation Response Projects happening at Waterloo
What's happening at other universities and elsewhere
The Indigenization Strategy information and resources page
The Learning Commons page of the UW Truth and Reconciliation Response Projects website
The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Guide to Acknowledging First Peoples & Traditional Territory and Policy Statement on Indigenizing the Academy
FAUW blog posts on Indigenizing the Academy
- Universities Canada’s Principles on Indigenous Education
Who to talk to
To hire an Indigenous student as a research assistant, contact Cheryl Maksymyk at the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre.
For support with your own efforts at Indigenization and decolonization, or to share what you’re already doing, contact a member of the FAUW Indigenization Working Group.
- Indigenous faculty can connect with Lori Campbell, director of the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre.
Please note that, at this time, there isn’t anyone employed by the University to help faculty with Indigenizing their courses and curricula, and the Indigenous Student Centre doesn't have the capacity to support non-Indigenous faculty in doing so. If you would be interested in access to such a resource, please let us (or the University) know.
What you can do
Here's what non-Indigenous faculty can do to learn more, raise awareness, and support your Indigenous students, colleagues, and community members:
It’s normal to be uncomfortable and unsure—and wise not to be overconfident—at this stage. It's important to listen and learn, without overburdening Indigenous people or expecting them to educate you. There are a lot of resources out there to help you educate yourself.
Learn about both the history of colonization in Canada and its ongoing impacts on Indigenous communities and individuals.
Learn about Indigenous people in this area, and when you travel to other places on Turtle Island (also called North America), get into the habit of looking up whose traditional territory you're visiting. Here are some helpful resources:
Learn about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls for Action (PDF).
Attend the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre’s weekly free soup and bannock lunches and meet Indigenous students, staff, and faculty.
Join FAUW's monthly drop-in reading circles on Indigenization.
Enrol in a course. There are free online courses such as Indigenous Canada from the University of Alberta or the University of British Columbia’s Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education.
UW has an Indigenous Studies minor! Consider using your tuition benefit to take a course for free. Renison also offers a Mohawk language course.
The Centre for Indigegogy at Wilfrid Laurier University offers a Decolonizing Education Certificate open to all educators. The program is offered in eight two-day modules over a two-year period. You do not have to commit to completing all eight modules.
- Consider acknowledging the traditional caretakers of the area when writing a syllabus, starting a class, or welcoming researchers—or when you’re giving a talk elsewhere. The Canadian Association of University Teachers provides this information for universities across Canada. (If you suspect that this is a complicated practice, you’re right, and you might want to check out this blog post: Beyond Territorial Acknowledgements.)
- Assign readings by Indigenous authors, or invite an Indigenous speaker to your class to expose students to one or more Indigenous perspectives. Be sure to compensate any guests for their time.
- Attend, promote, and volunteer at events and initiatives happening on campus, such as the Indigenous Speaker Series or Pow Wow, to enhance your learning.
- Consider volunteering to serve a soup lunch at the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre with your department or a group of colleagues.
- Read Lynn Gehl’s Ally Bill of Responsibilities for guidance.
- Indigenization as inclusion, reconciliation, and decolonization: navigating the different visions for indigenizing the Canadian Academy (Adam Gaudry and Danielle Lorenze)
- Western University's Guide for Working with Indigenous Students
- 100 ways to Indigenize and decolonize academic programs and courses (PDF) (Dr. Shauneen Pete at the University of Regina)
- Doing The Work: The Historian’s Place in Indigenization and Decolonization (activehistory.ca)
- Indigenizing the Academy (University Affairs)
- Decolonizing the classroom: Is there space for Indigenous knowledge in academia? (podcast: Unreserved, on CBC Radio)
- Beyond 94: Truth and Reconciliation in Canada (CBC News; analysis of progress to date on the calls to action)
- Reconciliation within the Academy: Why is Indigenization so Difficult? (PDF) (Michael Bopp, Lee Brown, and Jonathan Robb)
- Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal, Myra Tait and Kiera Ladner
- Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Metis & Inuit Issues in Canada, Chelsea Vowel (Read our review)
- Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada, Paulette Regan
- Visioning A Mi'kmaw Humanities: Indigenizing The Academy, Marie Battiste
- Colonized Classrooms: Racism, Trauma and Resistance in Post-Secondary Education, Sheila Cote-Meek (Read our review)