Indigenization is a major topic of discussion at universities across the country and Waterloo is no exception.
What you need to know
- Whose territory we’re on: The Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge campuses of the University of Waterloo are situated on the Haldimand Tract, land that was promised to the Haudenosaunee of the Six Nations of the Grand River, and are within the territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples. The Stratford campus is on the territory of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and Ojibway/Chippewa peoples; this territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties. 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: The University began work on an Indigenization Strategy in 2017, which resulted in recommendations from five working groups. Jean Becker started as Waterloo's first Senior Director, Indigenous Initiatives in January 2020 and as of October 2021 is Associate Vice President, Indigenous Relations. The Office of Indigenous Relations is currently working on a campus-wide Indigenous Initiatives plan.
- What FAUW is doing: Our Indigenous Priorities Action Committee (started in 2017) helps to advocate for changes at the University of Waterloo to improve the experiences of Indigenous faculty, staff, and students. Contact Laura McDonald if you’re interested in getting involved (or sign up for our mailing list in the sidebar).
Where to find information
Indigenization and resources at Waterloo
- The Office of Indigenous Relations
- Shatitsirótha’ – the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre
- The Waterloo Indigenous Student Association
- The Library's Indigenous research guide
Indigenization 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 about Indigenization
- To learn about the University's Office of Indigenous Relations, contact Robin Stadelbauer, Indigenous Relations Coordinator.
- Indigenous faculty and students can also connect with the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC).
- For help with course or curriculum development, contact Leslie Wexler, CTE's Senior Educational Developer, Indigenous Knowledges and Anti-racist Pedagogies.
Respecting Indigenous people's time
The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre and the Indigenous Students Association are resources for Indigenous students. They, unfortunately, don't have the capacity to support non-Indigenous faculty with Indigenizing their courses, or to help a lot of students with their projects or research. Indigenous faculty receive a lot of requests for help, but have their own research and teaching to focus on as well.
What you can do to avoid over-burdening Indigenous members of the academic community:
Direct students to conduct research on their own. It’s a better (and more respectful) use of everyone’s time for them to get their first-hand Indigenous perspectives from the plethora of existing sources rather than one-on-one interviews. (Read Craig Fortier’s blog post on how to avoid burdening marginalized people and social movement organizers.)
Provide meaningful opportunities for Indigenous faculty and students that feature and advance their own work and learning, not just yours.
The role of non-Indigenous faculty in Indigenization
There are no quick fixes. You'll need to put in the long, slow work of learning and building relationships. 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 territory you're visiting. Here are some helpful resources:
Learn about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action (PDF) and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
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.
Attend the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre’s weekly free soup and bannock lunches and meet Indigenous students, staff, and faculty—and their other events.
Learn how to pronounce Shatitsirótha’, the name of the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre:
- 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 to expose students to one or more Indigenous perspectives (this applies in any field; there are Indigenous researchers in all disciplines). If you invite an Indigenous speaker to your class, be sure to compensate them for their time.
- Attend, promote, and volunteer at events and initiatives happening on campus, such as the Indigenous Speaker Series or Pow Wow.
- Consider volunteering to serve a soup lunch at the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre with your department or a group of colleagues.
- Publicly show your support for initiatives and changes that the Indigenous communities on and around campus are asking for.
- Recognize that Indigenous faculty don't work only on Indigenous-related research. Support and promote Indigenous faculty members' work in all areas.
- Read Lynn Gehl’s Ally Bill of Responsibilities for guidance.
- New: Towards reconciliation: 10 Calls to Action to natural scientists working in Canada
- Indigenizing Academia (Stryker Calvarez) and the Indigenization resources from University of Saskatchewan Teaching & Learning
- Indigenization as inclusion, reconciliation, and decolonization: navigating the different visions for indigenizing the Canadian Academy (Adam Gaudry and Danielle Lorenz)
- Western University's Guide for Working with Indigenous Students
- 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)
- Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Universities and Colleges (Pam Palmater)
- 100 ways to Indigenize and decolonize academic programs and courses (PDF) (Shauneen Pete)
- Doing The Work: The Historian’s Place in Indigenization and Decolonization (activehistory.ca)
- What’s with the territorial acknowledgments at public events in Waterloo Region? (Lori Campbell)
- The role of faculty associations following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Lori Campbell, Shannon Dea, and Laura McDonald) + more from the Spring 2019 issue of Academic Matters, "Decolonizing the university"
- Making Science Relevant to Indigenous Students (Indigenous Corporate Training Inc.)
- 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)
- The Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King