What, in practical terms, does indigenization mean in relation to curriculum and student learning?
What is the definition of "indigenization"?
Indigenization is the process by which Indigenous ways of knowing, being, doing and relating are incorporated into educational, organizational, cultural and social structures of the institution.
Its goals are to make Camosun as welcoming and relevant to Indigenous learners as we can be, and to prepare non-Indigenous students, graduates and employees to better understand, live alongside of, and work with Indigenous peoples.
Curriculum development and delivery
What, in practical terms, does indigenization mean in relation to curriculum and student learning?
The development and maintenance of deep relationships with community
The following needs must be addressed:
- Dedicated resources to community relationship development (local First Nations, Metis community, Indigenous organizations), including a person or people who can build bridges between Indigenous communities and the institution.
- Informed willingness and capacity on the part of the institution and its programs to work collaboratively and respectfully with Indigenous communities and knowledge keepers.
A knowledge about and use of Indigenous scholarship
- Indigenous faculty to develop and/or co-develop curriculum and to teach.
- Continuation of resources, including the educator development program such as TELŦIN TŦE WILNEW: “Understanding Indigenous Peoples" or the Indigenous Education Community of Practice, as well as the development of new resources including an orientation to Indigenization program to be made available to all new faculty.
Understand the concept of Indigenous knowledge and how best to integrate it
- Need to work with Indigenous knowledge keepers and to review Indigenous scholarship to establish a process or policy about how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and at the same time to protect it.
Understanding, knowledge, and capacity to apply Indigenous theories and pedagogy
- This requires expertise and can be included in educator development, once faculty have grappled with the impacts and implications of colonization and have experience with indigenizing their professional practice.
Commitment to a significant organizational culture change project
The formulation of strong relationships across the institution among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples is necessary to understand of why indigenization is important.
- Institutional leadership must buy into indigenization and support it with resources and through modelling respectful relationships, meaningful engagement and inclusion of Indigenous peoples in all aspects of the work of the college and not only for ceremonial purposes. The process of indigenization is most effective when it emerges from the grassroots, from relationships with Indigenous people and experience with Indigenous communities. For Indigenous employees at all levels, the importance of building and maintaining relationships with allies across the institution is critical.
Necessary resources include:
- A dedicated Indigenization Coordinator
- Capacity for community relationship and collaboration
- Support from curriculum development practitioners and leaders
- Support and buy-in from those who formally and informally influence the institution
- Cross-college representation on an Indigenization Committee that supports the work of the Indigenization Coordinator
- Patience – time to think about and develop indigenization as a process for this organization, as well as understanding that this is a cultural change project and therefore is a long process
- Deep emphasis on value and practice of relationship, both with Indigenous community and within the institution.
May we see examples of indigenized curricula, learning activities, assessment strategies?
Please see the examples of IST 117 and IST 118 found in the IECC school's course outlines archive.
What professional development has been identified, developed, and/or offered to faculty and administrators to support indigenization?
Time, encouragement, resources and support are required to indigenize.
- All of our instructors have dedicated professional development time and can choose to take TELŦIN TŦE WILNEW, design new indigenized curriculum or indigenize existing curriculum.
- Educational opportunities are scheduled at a time when support staff are able to attend. Indigenization is seen as a priority at the college and supervisors are urged to allow those interested in learning about Indigenization to attend.
- All administrators are encouraged to take TELŦIN TŦE WILNEW and to consult with Eyēʔ Sqȃ’lewen co-leaders and the Indigenization Coordinator about ways to indigenize.
- Instructors going through program review are encouraged and supported to indigenize their programs and courses.
- Curriculum approvals bodies encourage curriculum writers to indigenize by asking each presenter: "Have you considered how to indigenize this program/course"? If they have not, they are offered the support of the Indigenization Coordinator to integrate appropriate content and/or processes into their proposal. There is an Indigenous faculty member on the Integrated Curriculum Committee and Education Council (functions same as Senate at a university).
Resources and Support
- The Indigenization Coordinator consults/collaborates as requested and facilitates connection with community as needed.
- Our Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning has dedicated curriculum development support to guide faculty and curriculum writers; and offers instructional skills support.
- We deliver small workshops on request to groups like school curriculum committees, leadership teams, brown bag lunches, and internal conferences (Walls Optional, Conversations Day).
- A Community of Practice meets regularly to discuss facets of Indigenous Education.
- Intercultural Connections is a workshop series for graduates of TELŦIN TŦE WILNEW and provides opportunities for participants to explore ways to enhance their intercultural competence and awareness.
Policy and planning
What do administrators need to know and do to support indigenization?
- Recognize that indigenization is an added value that can benefit the whole institution and all the students it serves.
- Recognize that funding is required for the necessary resources.
- Include indigenization as a part of the strategic and similar plans.
- Understand and be able to articulate the importance of indigenization at senior leadership council meetings
- Develop Human Resources policy to support more Indigenous staff, faculty, and administration.
How is the concept of indigenization applied to the practices and policies of the institution?
- It is part of the strategic plan and the education plan.
- It is part of the curriculum approvals process.
- Acknowledgment of territory by elders at every major function.
- Acknowledgment of territory by college employees at internal events, meetings and in classes.
- Indigenous art in high profile paces at both campuses
- Indigenous people included in designing program-specific college marketing materials.
- Graduates are drummed in to graduation ceremony and Indigenous grads are encouraged to wear regalia.
- Indigenization Steering Committee, composed of administrators, faculty, support staff, community, and students, continually informs the process.
What goals or targets were articulated in the indigenization process?
Goals are set across the 4 corner post areas:
- Integration of indigenization into curriculum development and delivery processes;
- Development and facilitation of employee education program;
- Creation of policies that support indigenization, including HR policies to support informed hiring of Indigenous staff and faculty (still in process);
- Development and implementation of a process to build bridges between the mainstream student services and the Indigenous specialized student services.
What have been the outcomes to date – i.e. how has Indigenous student success been impacted?
Indigenization has been in place alongside the Aboriginal Service Plan (ASP), which provides provincial funding to initiatives that support Indigenous student success, institutional change to better ensure that education is receptive and relevant to Indigenous students, and enhanced partnership/relationship with community.
Within the context of the indigenization initiative, the ASP, and population demographics:
- Indigenous student numbers have more than doubled in 8 years;
- attrition rates have dramatically decreased, particularly in Indigenous programs, and;
- we have witnessed greater involvement of Indigenous students in student life activities.
The institution is a different place. We have, for the most part, met one of our early goals – that indigenization would come "naturally" to the institution. Our work has become part of the way Camosun proceeds.
What have been the barriers and growing pains in indigenization?
The first major barrier was fear on part of the institution and its employees that we were advocating for Camosun to become an Indigenous-centric institution. We elected to take these concerns seriously and did a series of workshops to demonstrate that indigenization is on a spectrum and we did not wish it to overwhelm other (organizational) cultural components of the college. This was the first step in establishing the strong internal relationships that have made indigenization a success at the college.
This initiative is also fairly resource-heavy. It requires a full-time Coordinator to do the work internally, someone to focus on community relationship, curriculum development costs (although some was done internally), and relationship building has intrinsic costs (food, gifts, etc.). We were fortunate to access Aboriginal Services Plan dollars to support this, but even with that it has been an expense for the college.