What Happens When a Mi’kmaq Hereditary Chief & a Settler Prof Create a Course…

…. and invite everyone, from everywhere, to join?

Well, we are hoping it’s going to be an exciting learning intercultural learning journey and an interesting educational experiment in live-streaming, and we look forward to welcoming everyone along the way!

Responding to the TRC Calls to Action

We were inspired to create and offer this course due to our deep commitment to finding ways in which universities and institutions of higher education can decolonize, Indigenize, and promote learning about Indigenous histories, cultures, wisdom, and ways of knowing that are taught by, led by, and facilitated by Indigenous people.

This is an exciting time across Canada. When the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released its executive summary report on June 3, 2015, there was a marked change in the narrative and dialogues happening across the country. Suddenly, there was a strong appetite from people from all backgrounds and walks of life to learn more, educate themselves, and understand what true Nation-to-Nation relations might be. With the election of the new Federal Government in October 2015 and the release of the Final Report from the TRC in December 2015, the need for this sort of dialogue and learning continues to increase.

We take seriously the recommendations from the TRC that call on institutions of higher education to act immediately to work with Indigenous peoples to respectfully and appropriately incorporate Indigenous knowledge, histories, ways of knowing, and language into the classroom, with an emphasis on intercultural learning and knowledge-sharing.

Cape Breton University has a long history of and commitment to Indigenous education in Unama’ki and Mi’kma’ki, starting with the turning of the sod in 1976 by Grand Chief Donald Marshall Sr. to create the College of Cape Breton, to the creation of the Mi’kmaq College Institute in 1998 which, in 2010, became Unama’ki College, to the development of a Native Studies program, which laid the foundation for Mi’kmaq Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Integrative Science programs at CBU, and other exciting initiatives such as the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business, the In.Business Program, and the newly-launching Institute for Indigenous and Intercultural Research.

Throughout the years, CBU has supported the graduation of over 500 Indigenous students, has established strong in-community degree programs, and has become a cornerstone of Indigenous-focused education in Atlantic Canada and across the country.

But there is always more that can be done, more that we can do, and this course, then, is one of the ways in which Unama’ki College and CBU are responding to the TRC Calls to Action, and continuing to find new ways to reach out, share learning, and support intercultural dialogue – and share it everyone! It is at once an educational experiment, a commitment to reconciliation, and an invitation to those near and far to join us in a collaborative journey of learning and dialogue. And we are happy you are part of it!

How Will it Work?

This course is scheduled every Monday night from 6:00-8:30pm AST, starting January 11th. This course can be taken for credit by contacting CBU’s Registrar’s Office. Otherwise, you can enjoy this course for free through several options:

  • For those within the Unama’ki/Cape Breton region, you can join us on campus in the Royal Bank Lecture Theatre (CE-258), but please register here to indicate your attendance.
  • For those who are unable to join us in person, we are happy to welcome you via live-streaming technology from Bell Alliant, available here. Please register here to indicate your attendance.
  • And if you want to participate in the learning, but can’t attend in person or join the live-stream at the time, all videos will be immediately archived by Bell Alliant, and available here to be viewed at any time, from anywhere that has Internet access.

Finally, don’t forget to join us on social media. We will be on Facebook and on Twitter with #taliaqCBU. Send us your questions, share your thoughts and reflections, and help us share the knowledge and wisdom of the Knowledge Keepers of Mi’kma’ki.

Speaking of our hashtag, if you are interested in learning what it means, watch the video below!

MIKM 2701 – Mi’kmaq Language -Lesson One from Cape Breton University on Vimeo.

Check back here for regular blog posts from us, students in the course, and some of the guest speakers. We will also be releasing videos each week teaching some Mi’kmaq words, and sharing more resources, readings, videos, and information about Mi’kmaq history and culture.

Thank you for joining us in this new endeavour, and for giving your time to learning with us and all the amazing guest speakers we are so privileged to welcome to our classroom. We look forward to welcoming you to the course, whether in person or virtually, each Monday night!

Wela’liek aq ap nemu’ltesnen!

Stephen Augustine, MA

Hereditary Chief on the Mi’kmaq Grand Council

Dean, Unama’ki College & Aboriginal Learning

E: stephen_augustine@cbu.ca

Ashlee Cunsolo Willox, PhD

Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Healthy Communities

Assistant Professor in Community Health

E: ashlee_cunsolowillox@cbu.ca