Enrolment in Aboriginal studies course jumps by more than 400 percent

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The University of Waterloo’s course in Aboriginal studies (“Issues in Contemporary Native Communities”) saw a whopping 400 percent increase in student enrolment this term – something that may reflect a broader societal interest in Aboriginal culture and communities, says Graham Brown, Principal of St. Paul’s University College, where the course is taught.

“A number of factors – such as the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a growing presence of Aboriginal peoples in popular culture – are bringing to the forefront the idea that the general public lacks a deep understanding of Aboriginal culture and communities,” Brown says. “We think students are keen to develop a greater knowledge of the issues in different communities, and recognize that without this understanding, it will be hard for Canada to move forward in reconciliation.”

The course is being taught by Michael Doxstater from Six Nations Polytechnic this term; he holds a PhD in Education from Cornell University. St. Paul’s sponsors the course and partners with Six Nations to appoint an Indigenous Visiting Professor to teach it. Enrolment in the course went from a typical 15 students, to 80. St. Paul’s also offered an Aboriginal Business Development class last term and plans to run it again next year.

St. Paul’s, in consultation with Indigenous community partners, and with the support of the President, Provost, and Deans of the University of Waterloo, leads the way in establishing an Aboriginal presence and strategy at the University through the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre (WAEC), established in 2006.