KPU offers new Indigenous community justice minor program

Wed, Jun 21, 2017

A first-of-its-kind Indigenous studies program launching this fall at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) will focus on community and justice.

KPU aptly announced its new minor in Indigenous community justice program on National Aboriginal Day.

“My hope is that this minor will play a role in honouring, acknowledging, and respecting Indigenous peoples,” said criminology instructor Dr. Lisa Monchalin, who developed the program. “Canada is Indigenous land, it always has been, and it always will be.”

The program will be uniquely offered from Indigenous perspectives and include partnerships with local Indigenous communities as well as with peoples throughout Turtle Island, which is the name given to North America by some Indigenous communities.

Monchalin, who is of Algonquin, Métis, Huron, and Scottish descent, says the innovative program was created to provide students with a richer awareness and understanding of Indigenous communities, cultural knowledge, and justice issues.

Courses in the program will be taught by Indigenous instructors and instructors with practical community justice experience using Indigenous teaching techniques such as a focus on oral tradition, Elder teachings, learning through experiences, and sharing circle learning.

Students will be encouraged to challenge false assumptions, identify the impact of colonialism, and explore systemic and institutional racism and the impact of European influence on Indigenous life, cultures, and languages. Students will also critically assess government and corporate intrusion on Indigenous rights and lands, and Indigenous people’s collective resistance and activism.

Access to Indigenous content and learning methods will be ensured through ongoing input from KPU’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee, which comprises local Indigenous community members from shared territories, school boards, and community organizations.

“There is an urgent need for awareness and capability regarding Indigenous justice issues in an array of professions, particularly in service delivery, education, economics, geography, and criminal justice,” said Dr. Diane Purvey, arts faculty dean. “Completing this minor will open new doors to employment for students wanting to work respectfully and effectively with Indigenous peoples and communities.”

The Indigenous community justice minor can be taken by students as part of a KPU undergraduate degree.

“Kwantlen proudly borrows our name from the Kwantlen First Nation. Our university is located on the shared traditional, unceded territories, of the Kwantlen, Katzie, Semiahmoo, Tsawwassen, Qay Qayt and Musqueam people,” said Dr. Salvador Ferreras, provost and vice-president, academic. “The knowledge and traditions of these communities must play an important role in the university that serves them. Our new Indigenous community justice program reflects the importance that KPU places on addressing Indigenous participation and inclusion. This program effectively puts our words into action and practice.”

Story by communications team

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