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Background

Indigenous UWinnipeg


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UWinnipeg is one of the first universities in the country to mandate that all students have a baseline knowledge about Indigenous people and culture. Approved in November 2015 by the University’s Senate, the new Indigenous Course Requirement (ICR) makes Indigenous learning part of the undergraduate degree requirements for all new UWinnipeg students, beginning in the fall of 2016.

This initiative has been student led. The University of Winnipeg Students Association came forward with a proposal for an Indigenous Course requirement. This proposal has been the site of informal and formal discussion and debate at The University of Winnipeg among students, faculty and staff, and community members. These discussions helped to formulate the criteria being used to assess courses. 

This decision exemplifies the University’s leadership in responding to the recommendations made in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), while its spirit epitomizes the diversity-minded approach of the UWinnipeg community and its commitment to leading Indigenous inclusion.

Rationale 

The University of Winnipeg is located on Treaty One land in the heart of the Métis Nation. The treaties are agreements which benefit all people, and opened up these lands for settlement. The Métis played a pivotal role in bringing our province into confederation. We believe that as a post-secondary institution, therefore, we must provide an excellent academic experience which is also grounded in the territory in which it is located. This means providing our students with an understanding of the local history, cultures, contemporary issues, languages, and ways of knowing of local Indigenous peoples. This knowledge will help our students to understand the contributions Indigenous people have made to our world, and prepare them to engage in a society where reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is an important reality.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has recommended that Indigenous content be taught to future educators, lawyers, health care professionals, social workers, newcomers, public sector employees, and everyone in the private sector. In short, in order for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples to be possible, everyone in Canada, including every student at The University of Winnipeg, should be helped to learn a baseline of knowledge about First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples.

The Indigenous Course Requirement represents an important step in The University of Winnipeg’s response to the TRC report and our commitment to the project of reconciliation more generally. It also follows the guidance set out in the new Strategic Directions document recently approved by our Board of Regents. Specifically, it forms part of our Indigenization strategy. More broadly, it is an important element in UWinnipeg’s fulfillment of its mission of academic excellence by engaging with the society in which we are situated.