Indigenous Studies Now Mandatory At The University Of WinnipegBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
The University of Winnipeg has made indigenous studies mandatory for all of its first-year students. According to the school's associate professor, Jacqueline Romanow, the new course is expected to broaden the students' perspectives and not instill cultural guilt.
CBC reported that the course is entitled "Introduction to Indigenous Studies: Arts, Culture and History." The half-year course is one of 19 subjects that students must choose from. This is to fulfill the university's course requirement. It is mandatory for all first-year students and those who have not declared a major.
"What this course involves is really taking a sort of fresh look at Indigenous culture and history, starting right back at the beginning," Romanow, who is Metis, explained. The course is designed to counter prevailing prejudices and stereotypes that are still being encountered today.
"A lot of history they have already learned comes from a Western viewpoint," she added. "Because of this, we have a lot of racism that exists even today."
The University of Winnipeg and Lakehead University, in Thunder Bay, Ont., became the first Canadian universities to make indigenous studies mandatory. This comes after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission urged schools last year to place more emphasis on teaching indigenous history and perspectives.
"We have all been affected by the broken relationship between Indigenous people and the rest of Canada," Kevin Lamoureux, vice-president of Indigenous affairs at the university, said. "Now we get to be part of changing that narrative."
Indigenous studies span all subject areas in all majors. A physics class may focus on the concept that all things are made of the same matter but, from an indigenous perspective, not one is more important than the other.
According to Metro News, students who want to fulfill the indigenous course requirement this school year can choose from more than 40 different classes. These classes range from anthropology and women and gender studies to political science and English.