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Release Date: July 16, 2015

In September 2015, Camosun College will introduce the innovative course Understanding Indigenous Peoples (TELŦIN TŦE WILNEW). Designed to guide learners to a better understanding of Indigenous culture, it offers an inside look at the distinctive worldview and historical experience of First Nations and Métis people in Canada.   

Understanding Indigenous Peoples is the brainchild of Camosun’s Indigenization Coordinator Corrine Michel (Secwepemc Nation). She developed both online content and experiential learning to lead students in an in-depth exploration of "indigeneity". Topics include Indigenous ways of being, knowing and doing, the Indian Residential Schools and Sixties Scoop. According to one graduate, "The course challenged me to consider the impact of colonization on First Nations and Métis culture without losing sight of the integrity and resiliency of Canada's Indigenous communities."  

In addition to online video and audio components, facilitators bring the material to life through talking circles. These meetings, which run throughout the course, offer students a chance to hear stirring accounts of what it is like to be "Indian" in Canada and share views with other participants. "I was amazed by my emotional reaction to hearing these stories. It was sometimes hard to hear how Aboriginal people have been treated in our culture, but it was also cathartic to talk about it and take part in creating a better future." Because what is discussed is confidential, it is the perfect place for personal reflection and open, honest dialogue.

Despite the difficult sections of the course, the overall tone is one of optimism. Graduates leave with a more balanced picture of Indigenous culture and experience. Students learn how and why to acknowledge territory, and practice it at every talking circle.  "I now feel very comfortable with it," said one graduate. "As a professional who does a lot of public speaking, I felt it was essential to master this piece of cultural protocol."

By the end of the course, students are prepared to interact respectfully with Aboriginal people whether in the community or the workplace. As Michel says, "Reconciliation is a two way street. We recognize that many Canadians want improved relations with First Nations people—whether for personal or professional reasons—and we have designed a course to support that.' Understanding Indigenous People offers people of all backgrounds the chance to think critically and compassionately about Aboriginal issues.

To learn more about Indigenous Learning go to:

Media Contact

Marcey Louie (Nuu-chah-nulth (Ahousaht))| Faculty / Aboriginal Advisor
EyēɁ Sqâ’lewen – The Centre for Indigenous Education & Community Connections
250-370-3299 |

A talking circle facilitated by Camosun’s Indigenization Coordinator, Corrine Michel.

Last updated: July 17, 2015 10:47 am

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